Solar Trade Association launches STA Scotland

The U.K.’s Solar Trade Association (STA) – the body that represents the U.K. solar energy industry – has today announced the launch of STA Scotland, an offshoot body that will work with the Scottish government to raise awareness of the benefits of solar power.

STA Scotland will focus on developing a coherent and progressive solar policy specifically for Scotland, and has the backing of Scottish minister for business, energy and tourism, Fergus Ewing.

"The launch of STA Scotland provides a valuable asset for Scotland as we work towards meeting our 2020 renewable energy target," said Ewing. "STA Scotland will undoubtedly contribute to the Scottish government’s target to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020."

Ewing added that supporting solar energy in Scotland will become a hugely important economic strategy as the government explores ways to reduce fuel poverty and engineer a more balanced social equality in the country.

Although rarely featured in the solar-grabbing headlines, PV in Scotland has been slowly gaining acceptance and traction. There are some 35,000 households with a rooftop solar system installed, as well as 600 commercial properties.

The STA estimates that some additional 25,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops could support solar PV systems, helping the Scottish government along its ambitious path for 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Chair of STA Scotland is John Forster, who is chairman of Forster Energy – a Scottish renewable energy developer that has installed more than 700 systems in Scotland.

"I am thrilled to be leading STA Scotland," he said. "I currently sit on the STA U.K. board and am an active member of STA’s New Build Working Group. Striving towards a more sustainable, green and energy efficient Scotland has been a passion of mine for a long time.

"Scotland has been a great supporter of solar energy, and the launch of STA Scotland is testament to this. I am proud to be working alongside the industry’s finest to deliver a future for Scotland that will be able to reap the benefits of solar energy."

The arguments against solar energy in Scotland are well established, with skeptics noting that the country’s notoriously cloudy weather and its northern latitude make it a bad fit for PV. But analysis from STA has found that solar panels installed in Glasgow would generate more than 90% of the energy as the same number of panels installed in London.

"STA Scotland has been set up to give our member companies north of the border the support and clout to drive the agenda forward for both solar PV and solar thermal hot water heating," said STA CEO Paul Barwell. "This has been driven by our members over the past 18 months[…] STA is now able to use its in-house policy, communications and analysis resources to support this new group."

The first meeting of the STA Scotland trade body was held in Edinburgh last Friday, and was attended by AES Solar, Lark Energy, Lightsource, McDonald Engineers, Solar Kingdom, Sunamp and others.