SNP and Greens urged to raise solar power target as part of coalition deal

SNP ministers and the Greens are being urged to set a "stretching but achievable" target to massively increase Scotland's capacity for solar power as part of formal power-sharing talks.

Solar panels in a field as SNP ministers and the Scottish Greens are being urged to set a 'stretching but achievable' target to massively increase Scotland's capacity for solar power. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Solar panels in a field as SNP ministers and the Scottish Greens are being urged to set a 'stretching but achievable' target to massively increase Scotland's capacity for solar power. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Solar power only has the capacity to provide 372MW (megawatts) of electricity in Scotland but industry leaders believe that could be upped to 6GW (gigawatts) – or 6,000MW – by the end of the decade.

Solar Energy Scotland argues such a move could help boost the economy, saying every gigawatt of new solar capacity delivers more than £600 million in additional economic activity and creates 500 full-time equivalent jobs.

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The body has pressed the issue in a letter to the First Minister and the Scottish Greens, as the two parties are in talks over a co-operation deal that could see Greens join the Scottish Cabinet.

Scotland's response to the climate emergency is one of the areas under discussion.

The Scottish Government has set a target of offshore wind power potentially supplying 11GW of electricity by 2030, and Solar Energy Scotland argues a similarly ambitious goal should be set for its sector.

Chairman Thomas McMillan said: "We know that climate action and a just transition are on the table for the ongoing talks between the SNP and the Scottish Greens.

"We have today contacted the leadership of both parties to politely remind them that any discussion of Scotland's energy future must include a renewed focus on what solar can deliver." He said a "stretching but feasible 2030 target" for solar power is needed.

Calling for a formal target of 4-6GW, Mr McMillan added: "The right scale of ambition there will help smooth the path for appropriate solar projects, large and small.

"That in turn will allow us to create hundreds of new jobs and invest in a bigger Scottish supply chain, while contributing to this country's climate objectives.”

Greens environment spokesman Mark Ruskell said: "Solar could play a key role here in Scotland."

The Scottish Government said: "We remain committed to continuing to work with the solar energy sector to provide a supportive policy framework which aids continuing growth and deployment.”

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