The habit of turning on a light is not going out of fashion, and with depleting fossil fuels in the UK, we need alternative power to become energy independent.
Solar is an attractive solution with 84 per cent of Scots happy or unconcerned about living close to a solar farm, according to a newly released opinion poll.
Evidence from the Department of Energy and Climate Change demonstrates that we import nearly 50 per cent of energy from outside the UK. Russia has more than 50 years of oil, over 100 years of gas, and over 500 years of coal reserves remaining. The UK urgently needs to reduce its dependency on resource-rich countries like Russia, Norway, and others.
Currently, Scotland is leading the way by generating 48% of its own electricity requirements. With onshore wind approaching saturation in many areas, underutilised solar technology can help Scotland achieve total energy independence, with only 4% of UK solar capacity currently installed north of the Border.
A misapprehension persists that, with shorter winter days and regular stormy weather, the technology doesn’t work here. In fact, Scotland is ideal with levels of sunlight comparable to those in Denmark and Germany, where the solar industry is well established.
Scotland has significant potential for solar’s development, while supporting Scottish Government energy targets. The Scottish Institute for Solar Energy Research says that installed capacity of around seven gigawatts is achievable from rooftop installations alone, enough to cover one-sixth of Scotland’s annual electricity needs.
Large scale ground-mount installations have made by far the greatest contribution to the UK’s installed generating capacity to date. Rapid growth has prompted the UK Government to reduce financial support for large-scale solar schemes from April 2015.
With Scotland still in solar infancy, the timing is unfortunate. Large scale ground-mounted projects have a critical role to play in the Scottish industry’s future growth. Cutting financing at such an early stage could stifle this great potential. Benefitting from widespread public acceptance, solar technology can help Scotland achieve energy independence.
• Nick Boyle is founder and CEO of solar energy generator Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited