The misconception that Scotland is far from ideal in terms of solar power, but rather more suited to wind power is in the midst of being soundly refuted.
While Scotland and the Northern Parts of the UK may be well suited to wind farm projects, solar is often cast aside, perhaps not for much longer.
That is, because the UK’s two largest solar farms have been approved in Moray, North-East Scotland, not somewhere necessarily associated with large quantities of bright sunshine.
The proposals include the Speyslaw Solar Farm which at the size of 40 football pitches, will contain around 80,000 panels.
Investment in Scottish solar in the past has been minimal, leading to little growth. However, experts claim that Northern Britain may not be such a dark place as once believed.
George Goudsmit, Managing director of AES Solar states: “It’s a gorgeous technology. We don’t need sunshine, we need light.”
“This is particularly true of the technology that we use: thermal technology. The north of Scotland, and the northern hemisphere as a whole, has as much as much light as anywhere else.”
“The biggest battle we have in our trade is that no one believes solar works in the UK, let alone Scotland. We’ve been going for 38 years uninterrupted and every time we install we only get good feedback from our clients. It just a perception people have.”
North-Eastern areas of Scotland receive the most amount of bright light in the country, averaging 1,433 hours a year. That figure is only a little less than London yet is significantly higher than Birmingham.
A Senior Support Scientist at Reading University’s department of meteorology, Dr Roger Brugge agrees on the location for the new farms: “The east side of Scotland is sunnier than the west side.”
“The prevailing wind is from the west to the south-west, so the wind blows over the mountains where the cloud and rain falls and then the air starts to descend on the eastern side and as it starts to descend it warms up and any cloud will clear.”
“They’ve clearly chosen (Moray) because the population is less so you can build something of that size. From that point of view, you pick your area of the country and go as far east as you possibly can.”
The Solar Trade Association claims that Aberdeen gets 17 hours light per day during the summer. Over an hour more than Southern England.
George Alexander, leader of Moray Council says: “One of the earliest facts I ever learned about Moray was that its rainfall was the lowest in Scotland. I think you can assume from this that the degree of light is probably going to be higher as well. We are fortunate in this north-east corner.”
“We also have a phenomenal number of householders who’ve opted to put solar panels on their roofs. Which would indicate that it is a viable project.”
There are some left aggrieved by the situation who believe projects such as Speyslaw should have been carried out much longer ago. Leoni Green of the Solar Trade Association States: “Solar just wants to be able to compete with other technologies. It’s absolutely in the public interest that happens.”
“The unfairness for us is that the industry is being expected to sit there for years and wait for the economics to stack up. Meanwhile, other technologies are improving their supply chains, their methods, it’s putting us at a disadvantage and it’s not fair. Solar is everywhere at the moment and it makes a lot of economic sense for Scotland.”