Solar power market heats up

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Wind farms and turbines are a common sight around the Scottish countryside – but large-scale solar power farms have been absent from the landscape.

However, this could be set to change according to Thomas McMillan, renewable energy specialist with Smiths Gore, who said that interest from developers for land suitable for setting up solar photo-voltaic sites on this side of the Border had rocketed in recent months. “The market here has recently started to heat up, and we have noted a wave of activity in developers looking for sites,” he said.

“This could be down to a number of factors. For instance, solar PV offers low-risk returns that will suit some investors, uncertainty over tariffs has gone and the cost of a solar PV panel has also dropped significantly.”

He said that large-scale solar was one of the cheapest ways of producing renewable energy and that it would add another string to Scotland’s renewable bow, which could fill in when wind and hydro were disadvantaged. In addition, parts of England were already getting close to saturation point with PV sites, and Scotland was seen as an area ripe for development.

He said developers are looking for sites of between 30 and 250 acres for solar farms producing five to 30 Megawatts. Suitable land close to urban areas on flat ground, but not prime agricultural land, is likely to realise rental returns in the region of £600 to £1,000 an acre.