Is the future bright for solar in Scotland?

An East/West 100kW roof-top solar array installed by Forster Energy on a warehouse in Dundee for Dundee Industrial Association.
An East/West 100kW roof-top solar array installed by Forster Energy on a warehouse in Dundee for Dundee Industrial Association.
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John Forster, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association (STA) Scotland, on the future of solar in Scotland.

“The UK Government’s recent proposals to drastically slash the domestic Feed-in Tariff (FiT) by almost 90 per cent, is completely unnecessary and unjustified and will hit Scotland’s emerging solar industry hard. However despite this, the future remains bright for solar in Scotland.

Solar electric panels

Solar electric panels

“Back in June we set out our ‘Solar Independence Plan’ (SIP), to advise the new UK Government on how to achieve subsidy free solar by 2020. Implementation of the plan would have ensured that solar played a significant role in meeting The Scottish Government’s 2020, 100 per cent renewable electricity target. Currently there are around 3,000 solar related jobs in Scotland and under our SIP we projected that the Scottish solar industry would grow tenfold, over the next five years.

“With over 5GW of on-shore wind and barely 200MW of installed solar it is clear that solar combined with a growing energy storage industry can provide the necessary balance to help meet The Scottish Government’s aspiration for renewable electricity.

“Add in solar’s ability to provide an affordable solution to fuel poverty, reducing energy costs for homes, business and the public sector, and it becomes easy to understand why Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has highlighted that solar needs to play a key role in meeting The Scottish Government’s renewable electricity target.

“The UK Government’s proposed cuts threaten to dismantle all the work invested in creating confidence and stability for the industry and investors, which have driven growth in Scotland’s economy.

“What does this mean for Scottish businesses?

“It is clear that those installing solar in 2015 before the cuts, will benefit from the maximum return on their investment if they act now.

“However from 2016 there is still hope for the future of solar. After the massive cuts to the FiT in 2011, we saw a 70 per cent fall in the cost of solar panels. And again we expect a similar outcome, as these final cuts are implemented. This could mean that a high energy using business could still see a 15 per cent+ annual return on their investment.

An even bigger impact on costs will follow the planned removal of the Minimum Import Price (MIP) imposed on Chinese panel manufacturers in 2013 which will bring a further 25 per cent reduction in the price of panels.

With the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar will generate over 50% of the world’s electricity by 2050, we can be confident that irrespective of the Government cuts, solar will play an increasingly significant role in Scotland’s energy sector.”

John Forster, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association (STA) Scotland on the future of solar in Scotland.