Solar deployment is set to ramp up over the next decade according to the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) energy and climate change spokesman, who said Scotland represents a huge opportunity for solar.
Speaking at the launch event of Solarcentury’s Sunstation yesterday evening, Callum McCaig said the re-elected SNP would be focusing on solar following a prolonged period of wind deployment.
"There has clearly been a huge deployment of onshore wind in Scotland in the last decade or so and perhaps to a degree that has constrained the ability to which we can see solar coming,” he said.
“But the re-elected SNP government has the target of having 100% electricity produced from renewables and clearly the broader mix that we have in that the better. That means there will be a huge opportunity for solar deployment over the next five to ten years or so.”
The SNP won the Scottish elections on a manifesto which included plans to increase community energy schemes, create a government owned energy company and a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond to help the public invest in clean energy.
Despite pledging to work closely with the Solar Trade Association to expand deployment, there was little mention of solar-specific plans in the manifesto. However, McCaig’s comments suggest the new minority government has big plans for the technology north of the border.
He also used the opportunity to take a swipe at the Conservatives, claiming the launch of products like Sunstation was not getting positive attention from the UK government.
"There is a frustration that something that really should be a success that we jump up and down about and celebrate has for some reason descended into the negative politics of Westminster and the Tory party,” he said.
“I think Scotland is very much leading the way in how we embrace the renewables agenda... whilst we have a government who seem to be investing in the white elephants of Hinkley and, at best, 1950s technology. It is not a lost cause but we do need to keep beating the drum for solar, for wind, for storage and we get these things right we can say cheerio to things like Hinkley Point C.”
With Scotland set to see rapid deployment of solar towards reaching its renewable energy and decarbonisation targets, the UK government is also likely to face growing opposition in Westminster. Also in attendance at last night’s event was shadow energy minister Clive Lewis, who claimed the opposition party was preparing to increase pressure on the government following the local and mayoral elections.
“As a shadow front bench team we're now looking again to focus our attentions on holding this government's feet to the fire when it comes to renewable energy and in particular solar,” he said.
Lewis went on to claim that Labour had already succeeded in making “gains and concessions from the government” on issues like rising VAT rates for solar, which are now expected to have been kicked far into the long grass.
He added that uncertainty caused by government policy had created a “premium on investment” and said: “What people, investors and the industry needs are long term commitments and a long term road map and strategy as to where our energy is to go.”
There were so Conservative Party representatives speaking at the event.