Scotland’s “love affair” with renewable energy revealed

New figures have revealed the growing strength of renewable energy on the day a UK Government consultation into subsidy cuts closes.

According to data from Scottish Renewables there are now around 42,000 solar schemes (equivalent to around 660,000 250W solar panels) in Scotland, along with 2,557 small wind projects, 204 hydro-electric schemes and three anaerobic digesters.

Scottish Renewables claim these projects face an uncertain future, as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reviews the Feed In Tariff and other subsidies.

The deadline for the DECC pre-accreditation consultation for the Feed In Tariff review is today (19 August).

And the deadline for responses to the Whitehall’s consultation on Renewable Obligation support for solar farms smaller than 5MW closes on 2 September.

According to Scottish Renewables, Inverurie is Scotland’s solar capital. The town’s AB51 postcode boasts about 10,000 250W solar panels – more than any other region in Scotland.

And Scotland has 23% more small-scale renewables per capita than England and Wales, and has almost eight times as much small-scale wind.

“Last month the industry heard major changes were planned for the FiT scheme – changes which would make many projects unviable,” said Scottish Renewables’ Policy Manager, Stephanie Clark.

“Today (August 19) is the closing date for a consultation on the first stage of those changes, but within the next month we’re expecting further cost-cutting proposals to be announced.

“The figures released today demonstrate the extent of our love affair with small-scale renewables, but the current level of change and uncertainty is already punishing the sector.

“Without the FiT scheme thousands of homes and businesses would not have access to the affordable, clean electricity which has allowed them to stabilise their energy bills while reducing the amount of carbon emitted because of their energy use.

“Small-scale renewables can continue to thrive in the UK, but the sector urgently needs confirmation that it has the backing of the Government.”

Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, told how the figures for Glasgow’s G40 postcode show the “positive legacy” of the Commonwealth Games.

He said: “We always intended the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be the greenest in the history of the movement.

“These figures show more small scale renewables in the G40 post code than anywhere else in Scotland, and it seems likely that the new buildings put up for the Commonwealth Games have contributed to that. This is just one of the many examples of the positive legacy of the Games.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues