Around 400 sites owned by Glasgow City Council totalling almost 550 hectares are being assessed for technical and policy constraints (e.g. access to the National Grid, proximity to housing, extent of shading (if any), zoning, and whether there are any existing planning applications). The results of Glasgow’s ‘solar survey’ will be available on the Open Glasgow website (http://open.glasgow.gov.uk/), for communities, businesses and the Council itself to consider.
The City of Edinburgh Council is also is looking at putting disused quarries and pit bings to use as solar farms.
Whilst Scotland’s weather isn’t traditionally ‘one big ray of sunshine’, that doesn’t rule us out as a viable location for solar; in fact, sunshine isn’t needed at all, as solar panels can still produce electricity on cloudy days (thank goodness for that!).
At the end of 2010, solar photovoltaic (solar PV) contributed 3MW to the installed renewables capacity in Scotland; by the end of 2013, it’s share increased to 116MW (DECC Energy Trends). So why such an increase in solar PV in Scotland? It can’t all be down to increased sunshine hours… can it?
It’s interesting to note that Hallhill Development’s renewable energy park (solar farm) in Dunbar, which will have a generating capacity of 2MW and will cover an area of around 7.7 hectares (approx. 7 international rugby union pitches, or around 10 football pitches), was granted planning permission only 5 months after the application was validated by East Lothian Council. Despite being well publicised, the application attracted n0 objections (7 responses at PAC stage). Jewel & Esk College’s application for 21 solar arrays on a 1.95 hectare site in Dalkeith was decided only 2 months after it was validated by Midlothian Council. Albeit it’s a smaller scheme, but still only one representation was received (which concerned parking arrangements in and around the site).
I think it’s fair to say that that’s a stark contrast to the experience of, for example, onshore wind developers. Does this mean then that solar PV projects are more palatable for the public? If it does, could the UK Government be missing a trick in planning to cut subsidies for certain solar PV projects?
Whatever it means, it does appear that there’s a real – and increasing – interest in the part solar PV can play in relation to Scotland’s energy mix.
On May 7, 2014