Scotland includes solar in commitments after Greens power-sharing agreement

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

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The Scottish government has committed to including solar power in its planned new energy strategy, after the dominant Scottish National Party (SNP) on Friday announced the signing of a power-sharing agreement with the nation’s Green Party.

The SNP won 64 seats in May’s Scottish Parliament elections, leaving it one seat short of a majority and, having initially announced an intent to rule with a minority government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday announced the deal with the Greens, whose deputies hold eight seats in the chamber.

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The arrangement stops short of a full coalition, with the Greens having agreed to support their partners on votes of confidence and supply – those of existential importance to the government in question.

The arrangement led to the publication of a draft shared policy program issued by the two parties on Friday, and national PV trade body Solar Energy Scotland welcomed the mention of photovoltaics in the document.

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Chairperson Thomas McMillan said: “The solar energy industry in Scotland welcomes the clear recognition in the cooperation agreement of the important role solar can play in Scotland’s drive to meet our 2030 climate obligations. As the cheapest, most readily deployable renewable technology – with substantial benefits for the economy and helping to tackle fuel poverty – it is time for the sector to be allowed to grow and flourish. Scotland’s solar opportunities could see deployment increase 15-fold by 2030, and this would deliver a solar sector in Scotland proportional to what is being achieved elsewhere in the U.K.”

The inclusion of PV in the policy document falls well short, however, of Solar Energy Scotland’s call for 4-6 GW of photovoltaics to be installed in the nation this decade.

While the paper outlines an ambition for 8-10 GW of onshore wind farms by 2030 – albeit “subject to consultation” – on top of the existing goal of 11 GW of offshore facilities, solar is mentioned only as having “an important role in continuing to decarbonize our heat and electricity supply.” A section of the policy document devoted to the national planning system out to 2050 merely states an aim to “enable renewable energy, including solar power.”

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