SOLAR panels should be installed on all new public buildings, and retrospectively fitted to the Scottish Parliament, to meet  energy targets, say industry chiefs have warned.

Leading renewable body the Solar Trade Association has called for a roll-out of solar panels across the Scottish public estate, including installations on schools, leisure facilities, police stations, prisons and local authority offices.
And it wants the Scottish Government to say that solar should be explored with all new builds and refurbishments in the public sector.

Ministers have set an ambitious target of achieving 100 per cent of energy demand from renewables by 2020.

Sonia Dunlop, spokeswoman for the Solar Trade Association, said: “The thinking behind this was that although there has been some roll-out of solar PV on the Scottish public estate, so far [mostly on schools] this has largely been driven at a very local level and in a slightly haphazard way.

“We are thinking of both the Scottish Government estate, such as the Parliament, and the local authority estate: schools, council buildings, care homes, police stations, leisure centres, prisons and hospitals.

“There is so much roof space on care homes, police stations and leisure centres, to name just a few.

“One way that this could work is if the Government gave instructions that all new-build public buildings, and big refurbishments, must look at whether there is potential for solar before building or refurbishing.

“We could also imagine a system where the Government helped set up a mechanism where local authorities could borrow against their savings to invest in solar.”

In May last year, it emerged that solar panels are to be installed on 25 publicly-owned buildings throughout Edinburgh under a fresh agreement with community leaders.

The city council will work in partnership with the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative, supported by Energy4All, to deliver what is believed to be the largest socially owned urban renewable energy project ever undertaken in the UK.

Schools, leisure centres and community facilities were set to become solar panel sites amid hopes the technology will generate “significant”

nvironmental and social benefits.

Last November, industry body Scottish Renewables predicted that only 87 per cent of energy demand would be achieved from renewables without further investment.

The non-binding target for the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand to come from environmentally friendly sources was announced by former first minister Alex Salmond in 2011.

In December, official data showed renewable electricity generation in Scotland in 2014 was equivalent to 49.7 per cent of Scottish demand, up more than five percentage points from 2013.

An interim target for 2015 of 50 per cent energy-from-renewable was said by the Scottish Government to have been met one year early.

Scottish renewables are currently dominated by onshore wind and hydro schemes.

STA Scotland chairman John Forster, said: “There are a number of simple, practical things the Scottish Government can do to boost solar north of the border, whether it is encouraging wind and solar to share grid capacity or changes to planning.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “committed to encouraging the solar sector”.