STA Blogs: The Future of Solar in Scotland

Blog by Chris Clark, Director of Emtec Energy & STA Scotland Chair

Ahead of the Future of Solar in Scotland event on the 31st May, PWC Glasgow Chris Clark explains the history of STA Scotland and the bright future the group is planning for solar in Scotland. 

Solar in Scotland, who would have thought it? That certainly seems to be the misguided view of a significant proportion of the UK population, except those that understand how the efficiencies of solar work.

In 2015, as the UK solar market started to really feel the pinch from UK government, STA Scotland was formed. Key to our success was understanding how Scottish and UK politics differ, with Scotland having a somewhat “greener” approach to the environment and climate change as a whole.

The Scottish Government has devolved powers ranging from housing, rural affairs and the environment. Whilst schemes such as the FiTs still fall under Westminster’s control, building standards, planning and business rates are set by the Scottish Government and as such can have a massive impact on the solar industry in Scotland, as we have seen over the last few years. Solar has seen exponential growth via the Scottish housing sector and whilst commercial and large scale have yet to see a similar increase in installed capacity, we at STA Scotland believe this is only the beginning of Scottish solar.

 Emtec Energy solar installation in Scotland. 

The new Scottish Energy Strategy was introduced in 2017, detailing Scotland’s ambitions on how to play its part in combating climate change, within which a target of 50% of all energy to be produced by renewables was set. Wind farms have certainly helped in achieving part of this target, but solar also has a huge role to play. Moving forward as our energy system decentralises further and we shift to electrifying our heat and transport networks, solar will be creating on-site synergies with other clean technologies, which together are helping meet some of Scotland’s biggest challenges, like resolving fuel poverty.

Recently through continued lobbying via Scottish Government and the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) directly, STA Scotland affected how the DNO SP Energy Networks (SPEN) implemented the Statement Of Works (SOW) process as well as their analysis on fault levels. While there is some way to go before DNOs take a proactive approach to removing barriers for solar, this is progress. Removing fault calculations and SOW from 11kW systems to 200kW systems will have a massive impact on rooftop solar in parts of the country. Now, following these improvements, SSE is reviewing their own calculation methodology to see if similar principles can apply. Such a material policy change would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the STA Scotland group

It is imperative that grid barriers are removed to enable every new build school, factory, office, hospital and health center to have as much solar installed as is possible, instead of falling into a box ticking exercise.

So, what are our ambitions? We believe Scotland can achieve 6.6GW of solar by 2030. This, in turn, will create 10,000 jobs per annum, an industry worth £1.5 billion, a significant cut in carbon emissions, and it will achieve a huge chunk of Scotland’s ambitious 50% renewable energy target.

On March 31st in Glasgow, we will be discussing exactly how we hope to achieve this at our annual solar conference ‘The Future of Solar in Scotland‘. Specifically, we will cover the grid and its transformation from DNO to DSO, smart homes, addressing fuel poverty and the transition to subsidy-free solar. We hope to include diverse voices from across the sector and so if any of the above is relevant to yourself or your sector, do come along.