The Solar Trade Association (STA) Scotland – the Scottish arm of the UK solar industry trade body – has put forward a set of ‘key asks’ on solar to support the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to meet 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020 and to feed into the new Energy Strategy for Scotland.
STA Scotland is proposing that the Scottish Government achieves its renewables targets by putting together a dedicated Solar Action Plan for Scotland and suggests targets for both solar PV and solar thermal for 2020.
And STA Scotland is also recommending that Scotland sets a goal of deploying 2GW of solar in Scotland by 2020.
Its action list also contains specific recommendations on business rates, social housing and community energy, and covers both solar PV electricity and solar thermal hot water heating.
Set up just over a year ago, STA Scotland has now assembled some of the leading solar businesses in Scotland to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland remains at the forefront of the solar market, not only protecting the more than 3,000 solar industry jobs in Scotland, but supporting the growth of the industry, potentially tenfold, over the term of the next Scottish Parliament.
John Forster, Chairman of STA Scotland and also of Scottish solar business Forster Energy, (pictured, left) said: “There are a number of simple, practical things the Scottish Government can do to boost solar power north of the border, whether it is encouraging wind and solar to share grid capacity or changes to planning.
“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.
“We are optimistic that the next few years will be good for solar in Scotland. There is scope for Scotland to lead the way within the UK, encouraging markets for solar on residential homes, commercial rooftops, new build homes and buildings and solar farms.”
Scotland is currently over half way to reaching this target and has over 7.5GW of renewables, of which over 5GW is onshore wind. Solar can make an important contribution to the rest of the 100% target and provide an essential balance to the mix of renewables in Scotland.
Forster added: “Despite the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) recent reduction in support for solar, there remains strong support for the technology in Scotland, both politically and commercially.
“And in September of last year, the Scottish Government used its devolved powers within the Renewables Obligation to boost investor confidence in large-scale solar in Scotland”.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP has met with STA Scotland and is understood to be supportive. The Minister is keynote speaker at the ‘Solar in Scotland’ event being held by STA Scotland in Edinburgh on 15 March 2016.
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Fergus Ewing commented: “The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging and promoting the solar sector in Scotland and I very much welcome the creation of STA Scotland, who have supported the Scottish Government’s recent positions with UK Government on renewables.
“Scotland is beginning to gather momentum on solar and I look forward to further engagement both with the STA and the wider solar sector in Scotland.”
STA Scotland is also calling on the Scot-Govt. to establish Scottish financial support mechanisms for all solar projects under the transfer of powers as set out within the Scotland Bill.
This would ensure that Scotland’s renewable energy mix is balanced with a sufficient amount of solar energy generation and would bridge the gap to the early 2020s when mainstream solar rooftops and farms can become subsidy-free.
And the association also seeks active Scot-Govt. support the implementation of energy storage for both electricity and heat at all levels and to ensure solar thermal storage and space heating is permitted under the Renewable Heat Incentive.
View the full STA Scotland asks for the Scottish Government