THE Scottish Government must continue to champion the use of solar power, according to WWF Scotland and the Solar Trade Association Scotland.

Their call came as they published figures showing Scotland had achieved two new solar power milestones during 2016, with over 200 megawats (MW) of installed capacity solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems at 50,000-plus locations.

But the groups also said that the figures revealed the detrimental impact UK Government policy decisions were having on installed solar capacity north of the border, with 2016 recording the slowest rate of increase since 2011. Analysis of updated figures from Ofgem for 2016 found that Scotland’s installed solar PV capacity now stands at 209MW – a rise of 30MW on the same time last year, but the slowest rate of increase since 2011; Over 49,000 homes and 1,000 business premises in Scotland now have solar PV arrays fitted, and there are almost 200 community-led solar PV schemes, with a combined installed capacity of 2MW, now exist in Scotland.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks,  said: “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: “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.”