Solar to ‘hit the ground running’ in Scotland after SNP election win

The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) victory in last week’s elections is “good news” for the solar industry in Scotland according to the Solar Trade Association, which contributed to some of the party’s campaign winning manifesto.

In a long-predicted outcome of the Scottish elections, Nicola Sturgeon’s party stormed to victory winning 63 seats at Holyrood.

Despite being two seats short of a majority, Sturgeon has already ruled out a coalition with another party, suggesting instead that the SNP would form a minority government seeking “to work with others across the parliament to find common ground and build consensus".

Among the policies promised by the SNP during the election were a series of pledges towards solar deployment and more specifically, community energy projects. These include plans for greater control over feed-in tariff revenues; the possible creation of a government owned energy company to help grow local and community energy projects and a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond to allow savers to invest in Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

While solar was not mentioned specifically in the manifesto, it did promise to “work closely” with the Solar Trade Association (STA) to advance proposals for expanding solar in Scotland.

It is expected this will feed into the government’s plans for 1GW of shared ownership renewable energy schemes by 2020, as well as consideration of adopting a target of 50% of all energy to come from renewables by 2030.

Sonia Dunlop, who leads the STA’s work in Scotland and supports the STA Scotland group, said: “We think the result of the Scottish elections is good news for the solar industry in Scotland. The SNP committed in their manifesto to work with the STA on our proposals for boosting solar in Scotland. That is a reference to our 20 key solar asks for the Scottish government.”

Dunlop added that the STA is already in dialogue with key figures in the Scottish government and civil service who are working on its proposals, including the current minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, Fergus Ewing.

“The solar industry is well prepared to get to really hit the ground running in Scotland,” she added.

All of the measures outlined by the SNP are intended to help it meet existing targets of 100% electricity consumption from renewables by 2020. Total output of renewable electricity has more than doubled since 2007 and now supplies 57.7% of electricity in Scotland.