Renewable Energy

Scottish support for solar remains strong despite subsidy cuts

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing (left) with key members of the Solar Trade Association at the All Energy conference in May

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing (left) with key members of the Solar Trade Association at the All Energy conference in May

Support for greater deployment of solar remains strong in Scotland after both political and public figures expressed their backing in the wake of potential cuts to the Feed-in-Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidies.

In her first speech as secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd announced plans to control costs by closing the Renewables Obligation early for small-scale solar farms. Ms. Rudd claimed that Government support “must help technologies eventually stand on their own two feet, not to encourage a permanent reliance on subsidy.”

She added: “We have to control public subsidies – taking tough decisions on what schemes and projects are supported.”

Despite the potential cuts for solar technologies, support in Scotland remains strong, with the Scottish Government last month launching a consultation proposing waiving planning permission for most commercial non-domestic rooftop solar installations.

Fergus Ewing, Scottish energy minister, said: “Scotland is at the forefront of the renewables industry and solar is an important part of our renewable mix. We are actively seeking to encourage greater deployment of solar on the roofs of more Scottish homes and businesses to help them generate their own cheaper and greener supply of electricity.”

In the wake of subsidy cuts by the UK Government, proposals are also being put forward to remove the industry’s association with public funding. The Solar Trade Association (STA) issued its ‘Solar Independence Plan’ to the new UK Government last month, setting out a proposal for how to most effectively remove subsidies by 2020.

John Forster, chairman of the STA Scotland, said: “The reduction in subsidies are continuing alongside a significant reduction in the cost of solar. In the past four years, solar costs have reduced by 70%, taking us closer to a level of parity with Government support.

“The target for 2020 in Scotland ¬– to have all electricity supplied through renewables – is ambitious and therefore it is imperative that we see solar playing a key role in this. Not only will this support a reduction in carbon emissions, it will provide lower cost energy that can play a significant role in alleviating fuel poverty in Scotland. Investing in solar will not only give businesses the opportunity to reduce operating costs and help them become more attractive to their supply chain, but will also create a significant number of new jobs.”

The STA reports that 10% of the UK’s renewable power comes from solar power, deployed on over 670,000 homes and thousands of farms and businesses.