20 ways Scotland can ignite a solar revolution

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has released a new document of 20 ways the Scottish Government can catalyse significant growth in the deployment of solar energy across the country.

The ‘key asks’ document from the STA has outlined the numerous ways which the Scottish Government can boost the ambitious plan to generate 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020.

Scotland is more than half way to reaching that target, with more than 7.5GW of renewable capacity in the country – 5GW of which is onshore wind.

The STA believe that solar can make up a large proportion of the energy mix, with support for solar in the country still strong despite DECC’s recent cuts to feed-in tariff subsidies.

The Scottish Government has already used its devolved powers within the Renewables Obligation to boost investor confidence in large-scale solar in Scotland.

The STA’s top 20 ways the Scottish Government can boost solar energy production

1) Introduce an ambitious Solar Action Plan for Scotland for both solar photovoltaics and thermal solar that would see 2GW installed by 2020.

2) Establish financial support mechanisms within the Scotland Bill that would ensure that the country’s energy mix is balanced until solar can operate without subsidies.

3) Support the implementation of energy storage for both electricity and heat in order to relieve pressure on the grid.

4) Recognise the benefits of co-locating solar, wind and storage and sharing grid connections within the same geographical areas.

5) Address major grid constraints in Scotland and establish a new grid strategy which ensures the delivery and coordination at regional and national level.

6) Confirm and clarify community ownership policies and reconsider the removal of the Renewable Energy Generation Relief Scheme

7) Introduce a Scottish version of the Green Deal that covers domestic and commercial buildings and encourages people to track and reduce their own emissions.  

8) Support the case to HM Treasury/HMRC that the 5% reduced rate of VAT be retained for all domestic solar retrofit instead of the mooted 20%.

9) Represent cases to the EU pushing for the removal of damaging anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs as well as the shackles place on PV imports from China.

10) Recognise solar technologies as ‘reasonable measures’ within the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) programme and extend these standards to the private sector.

11) Assess the capacity and adopt an ambitious target for the rollout of solar on the Scottish Public Estate, including schools and leisure facilities.

12) Create centralised guidance for assessors to create consistency and clarity on the interpretation of legislation for rooftop and ground mounted solar.

13) Extend development permits for all solar rooftop installations with clear guidance given to each local authority over Building Warrant absences.

14) Create ambitious regulations to decrease on-site carbon emissions from new buildings in the next round of Scottish Building Standards.

15) Modify Scottish Building Standards to create ‘solar-ready’ requirements for heat systems and replace existing thermal storage with solar infused storage.

16) Review and update planning guidance in Scotland with regards to solar in Conservation Areas and on Listed Buildings.

17) Ensure that policy framework for ground-mounted solar protects the environment and embraces responsible development criteria.

18) Ensure that good practice principles found in onshore developments is transferred to community solar installations.

19) Make the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) register for domestic and non-domestic buildings publicly available, as is the case in England.

20) Actively support knowledge transfer in the public and private sectors in Scotland to enable greater up-take of solar to accelerate a cost effective transition to a low carbon economy.

Commenting on this list, STA Scotland’s chairman John Forster said: “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.”

“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.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said:“Thousands of Scottish homes and businesses are already seeing the benefits of having installed solar panels. Although the total installed solar capacity is small when compared to wind energy, we should remember that collectively these solar panels are helping to prevent thousands of tonnes of climate-damaging emissions being emitted every year.

“Following the global agreement reached at the UN climate talks in Paris last year, alongside energy saving measures, we’re going to have to see an even greater uptake of solar and other renewable technologies here and globally. That is why, as we approach the Holyrood elections, we’d like to see each of the political parties commit to ensuring Scotland becomes the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030.”

Matt Mace

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