The strategy adds that a “final solar vision” will be published later in 2023, which will work alongside the UK Governments target of reaching 70GW by 2030. Image: Pxhere.

Solar is set to play an “important role” in Scotland’s plan to accelerate the renewable revolution, the Government outlined in its new Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan draft.

Following Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s promise of a “clear vision” for the future development of solar in parliament last December, the plan still withholds a specific commitment  to the Scottish renewables industry’s call for a 4-6GW solar target. However, recognising the “significant appetite” for increased solar development in Scotland, the plan proposes increasing contributions to solar projects to bolster Scotland’s current 767MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Increasing solar capacity forms a number of proposals for consultation to help determine what Scotland’s renewable ambition ought to be and set new objectives for wind power and marine renewables.

When Stephanie Callaghan MSP queried in Scottish Parliament the requirement of further consultation around renewables, Michel Matheson, net zero and energy secretary replied that the discussions would enable the sector “to understand what the most appropriate target would be”.

“While the Scottish Government has not immediately accepted the solar industry’s call to reach 4-6 gigawatts by 2030, as called for by MSPs across the political spectrum last year, the sector considers the firm commitment towards setting a target as a major step forward, and we warmly welcome the strategy published today,” said Thomas McMillan, who chairs Solar Energy Scotland.

“Strong, stretching but ultimately deliverable targets: that is the last piece of the jigsaw to support more rapid deployment of solar power. Harnessing more of the sun’s rays –one of the cheapest and greenest sources of energy known to humanity – is exactly what Scotland needs to help combat the energy price crisis”.

Other key policy proposals for consultation include: adding 20GW of renewable electricity generation capacity to the current 13.4GW by 2030; a renewable and low-carbon hydrogen power target of 5GW in 2030 and 25GW by 2045; and accelerating the decarbonisation of transport and domestic heat.

The strategy adds that a “final solar vision” will be published later in 2023, which will work alongside the UK Governments target of reaching 70GW by 2030 as set out in the British Energy Security Strategy in April last year.

The strategy added: “We recognise solar has an important role to play in decarbonising our energy system, particularly when combined with other renewables. We see a strong role for solar thermal, as well as domestic and commercial solar PV combined with battery storage systems – which have the potential to help reduce consumer bills.”

Solar Energy Scotland anticipates that 6GW could be added to Scotland’s portfolio by combining 3.5GW of ground-mounted utility-scale installations, 1GW on commercial-scale rooftops and 1.5GW mounted on homes.

The Energy Strategy draft also included a Just Transition Plan, which details the support being provided to increase jobs in renewable energy generation and the supply chain whilst simultaneously growing the high-skilled energy workforce in Scotland. The plan also placed particular emphasis on enabling communities and business located in the north east of Scotland to prosper.

“A just transition to a net zero energy system will secure alternative employment and economic opportunities for those already working in the industry and will provide new green jobs in Scotland for future generations. Embracing this change will ensure we avoid repeating the damage done by the deindustrialisation of central belt communities in the 1980s,” said just transition minister Richard Lochhead.