Scotland could be in for an imminent bonanza in skilled jobs, care of clean, quickly deployed and popular solar power.
In his novel ‘Blandings Castle’, comic writing genius P G Wodehouse notoriously observed that it was not hard to tell the difference between a Scotsman with a grievance, and a ray of sunshine.
No Scot, though, could fash hisself – translation “harbour a grievance” – over the sunny outlook for the solar sector’s ability to create skilled jobs, as predicted this week by trade advocates Solar Energy Scotland.
Topping a range of projections appearing in the industry’s crystal ball are six gigawatts of new photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed north of the Border by 2030.
Deployment on that scale, the industry group estimates, would see more than 8,500 new roles created, in skills from technicians and installers, to electrical engineers, surveyors and asset managers. Forecasters base their predictions on data from the Office of National Statistics.
For comparison, 8,500 jobs would be more than five times the total of jobs associated with Scotland’s salmon farming industry in 2020.
At the lower end of expectations, if only four gigawatts of new capacity, not six, were to be deployed by 2030, more than 5,500 new jobs could be created.
Scotland’s solar industry is pressing ministers at Holyrood to set solar ambitions for 2030 through their forthcoming Energy Strategy, as the devolved administration has with other renewables such as wind.
Pictured above with credit to the Herald, Scotland, Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens now sharing power at Holyrood, stands before a ground-mounted array at Edinburgh University’s Easter Bush campus.
Salmon chanted evening, and ‘I’m on My Way’, industry proclaims
Defining targets would direct grid operators to free up new capacity, ready to accommodate solar’s big, cheap and quick increase. As Scotland’s new planning regime comes up for decisions shaping its future, solar chiefs also want to see the removal of obstacles holding the technology back.
Solar Energy Scotland chair Thomas McMillan knows where the industry’s going;
“For the first time, we’ve a real sense of how many high-quality jobs the solar sector stands poised to bring to Scotland by the end of the decade”, he said.
“We can expect thousands of new jobs to be created, from the most rural parts of the country to our urban centres. It’s not just installation and maintenance: our members will also be hiring energy advisors, environmental planners, data analysts, and many other roles”.
No subsidy is needed to delivery on the expansion goals of Scots solar, the industry leader stressed.
“We are confident that the Scottish Government understands the urgency of the situation and sees the benefits the industry is poised to help deliver,” said McMillan.
Moray-based manufacturer and installer AES Solar co-authored the report. Its director Josh King – also vice-chair of Solar Energy Scotland – added:
“Our industry will be essential if Scotland is to meet its decarbonisation targets. Our technology will also help cut fuel poverty, build energy independence, and reduce everyone’s bills.
“No form of power is getting cheaper more quickly, and solar now costs less per megawatt hour than any fossil plant.
“The opportunities are enormous, including more than 8,500 new jobs, and Scotland cannot afford to be left behind,” King added.