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Concern over taxpayer support

Holyrood urged to maintain solar investment

Solar PowerScottish government ministers are being urged to maintain investment in solar energy amid a weakening of support from Westminster.

Solar power capacity is up 17% on the same time last year, but is growing at its slowest rate since 2011, according to Ofgem data.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “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.

“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.

“Given the continuing need to cut carbon emissions, alongside energy saving measures, we really need to be seeing the uptake of solar and other renewable technologies rise.

“We therefore call upon the Scottish government to continue to press the UK Government to allow Scotland to switch on to the full potential of solar power. In addition, Scottish ministers need to ensure that their forthcoming climate and energy plans continue to champion the role solar can play in creating jobs and cutting emissions.” 

John Forster, of the Solar Trade Association Scotland, said: “Solar is the Scottish public’s most popular source of energy and one of the cheapest ways to deliver clean power.

“It is therefore disappointing that over the past year major policy changes by the UK Government have led to rooftop solar deployment stalling and thousands of jobs lost in the industry.

“In the coming year, the Scottish government will have the opportunity to breathe life back into the solar industry with the publication of its new strategy on climate change and energy. We urge them to build on their manifesto pledge to work with industry to expand solar, by setting out policies that will do just that.

“We call upon Finance Minister Derek MacKay not to follow the UK government’s damaging plans to raise business rate rises for organisations, including schools, that own and supply themselves with solar power.

“If this proceeds it will further restrict future investment in solar rooftops, leading to further job losses, and undermining our ability to cut carbon emissions.”

Stephanie Clark, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales.

“Solar in Scotland is quite counter-intuitive, but advances in solar panel design and the falling cost of the technology mean Scotland really can be a hotspot for this type of green energy, as these new figures show.

“However, recent changes to every scheme through which solar is supported have introduced a great deal of uncertainty to this promising sector.

“Scottish Renewables would urge governments at both Holyrood and Westminster to back solar power as a low cost, clean alternative to fossil fuel generation.”

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