Richard Lochhead MSP, promised to “actively enable” the solar sector’s growth in Scotland’s forthcoming Energy Strategy Draft. Image: Getty.

The Scottish Government promised that a “much bigger, renewed focus” will be given to solar power in the upcoming Energy Strategy draft during a debate on renewable energy last week (25 November).

The debate was called by SNP MSP for East Lothian, Paul McLennan, in response to the Economic Impact of Scotland’s Renewable Energy Sector – 2022 Update published this month by Scottish Renewables and the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The report highlighted the potential of the sector by showing that in 2020 solar had a turnover of £3.06 billion and employed the equivalent of 8,450 people.

Richard Lochhead MSP, minister for just transition, employment and fair work, called the debate a “welcome vote of confidence in Scotland’s burgeoning solar sector”.

Referencing the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens, Lochhead stated that solar played an “important role” in decarbonising Scotland’s power supply. As such, he promised to “actively enable” the sector’s growth in Scotland’s forthcoming Energy Strategy Draft.

The debate follows a letter written by cross-party MSPs calling for Scotland to target between 4-6GW of solar power by 2030. This target is expected to deliver an approximately tenfold increase from Scotland’s current capacity.

Stephanie Callaghan, SNP MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill described solar as Scotland’s “most democratised form of energy” and stated that: “Scotland needs to be bolder, as other nations have been, and that includes setting a target for solar energy generation.”

Callaghan continued: “It goes on the rooftops of homes and businesses and undoubtedly has strong potential to reduce fuel poverty with targeted deployment. Yet I would argue that solar is Scotland’s most underutilised renewable resource, despite being the cheapest energy source available to Scotland’s people, at a time of rapidly rising costs.”

Two dozen Scottish industries also wrote to their ministers earlier this month calling for the Scottish Government to increase the installation capacity of solar panels exempt from obtaining prior planning permission from 50kW to 5MW as a matter of urgency to help tackle unprecedented energy costs.