More than 50,000 solar power systems have been installed across Scotland; but the tally could have been much higher by now according to WWF Scotland and the Solar Trade Association.
At least 49,000 homes and 1,000 business premises in Scotland now have solar panels fitted. One of the significant commercial installations we recently covered was Mackies Of Scotland’s 1.8MW solar farm.
Additionally, there are close to 200 community-led solar PV schemes, with a combined installed capacity of 2MW.
Figures released by the groups, sourced via Ofgem, show solar PV capacity grew by 17% in 2016 – and that’s where the problem is. It was the lowest rate of growth since 2011, when solar capacity increased by a massive 1,250%.
“While it’s good news that Scotland is now home to a record number of solar power installations, it’s worrying that the rate of growth in this cheap, climate-friendly technology appears to be slowing,” said WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.
” The UK Government’s wrong-headed decision to slash support for solar earlier this year is the main reason more homes, businesses and schools haven’t taken up solar PV this year.”
Both organisations have called on the Scottish Government to continue to champion the use of solar power and to maintain pressure on the UK Government to allow Scotland to switch on to its full potential in this regard.
The challenging situation with solar PV aside, Scotland is no slouch when it comes to renewables.
Recently released figures (PDF) from the UK Government indicated renewables generated enough power to meet 59.4% of Scotland’s electricity requirements in 2015.
Renewable energy is now also a major employer in Scotland, providing jobs for 21,000 in sectors including onshore and offshore wind, biomass, solar, hydropower and renewable heat. According to Scottish Renewables, the industry invested £910 million in the region’s economy in 2015.
An important clean energy related milestone in Scotland last year was the end of coal fired power, when remaining generation units at Longannet Power Station were switched off for the last time.
Also in 2016, wind turbines generated more electricity than was consumed in Scotland on a single day for the first time.
The Scottish Government has set a target of 100% renewable electricity generation (gross consumption) by 2020.