STA Scotland lays out key solar questions for Scottish government

If Scotland is to succeed in reaching its goal of meeting 100% of its electricity demand from renewables by 2020, then the role that solar PV plays has to be expanded, says the Solar Trade Association (STA) Scotland.

Currently, Scotland is more than half way to meeting its clean energy target, but of the 7.5 GW of clean energy capacity already installed, more than 5 GW is onshore wind, with offshore wind and hydro each playing a larger role than solar PV.

The country’s new Energy Strategy for Scotland breaks ranks with the rest of the U.K. in its avowal to develop more solar PV via the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme that has been largely abandoned south of the border.

With political and commercial support for solar in Scotland strong, the STA Scotland has proposed 20 ‘Key Asks’ for the Scottish government to mull over, chief of which is a dedicated Solar Action Plan that would set out ambitious, solar-specific deployment targets for 2020.

The STA’s action list also offers recommendations on business rates, developing solar for social housing and community schemes, and exploring ways to protect and expand the 3,000 solar industry jobs in Scotland.

Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing has been working with the STA Scotland on this matter, but chairman John Forster wants more to be done to improve this relationship and drive greater adoption of solar across Scotland.

"There are a number of simple, practical things the Scottish government can do to boost solar north of the border, whether it is encouraging wind and solar to share grid capacity, or changes to planning," Forster said.

"We are also keen that the Scottish government look at options to establish its own financial support mechanisms for solar to bridge the gap between now and the early 2020s, when we hope to see mainstream solar projects become subsidy-free."

Forster added that the STA Scotland foresees an optimistic future for solar in Scotland, and that it could "lead the way within the U.K.", particularly in the market for residential, commercial and new build solar homes.