A tourist visiting a remote Scottish town has become the latest celebrity to take a punt on the solar power industry, with the town of Spittles, in the north of Scotland, seeking to build its own solar power plant.
The announcement came after Scotland’s Chief Scientist, Professor James Scott, told a business forum last month that Scotland was now home to the world’s most photovoltaic solar plants, which could supply more than half of Scotland’s electricity needs.
The project would provide enough electricity to power up to 100 homes and could eventually power the whole of the city of Spitznes, which is about 2,000 kilometres (1,700 miles) north of Edinburgh.
Scott said that with the advent of solar panels, which now produce less energy per watt than traditional coal-fired power stations, the cost of installing solar panels had been falling rapidly, and that the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity could be reduced further by installing panels on top of existing power lines.
The Scottish Government is hoping to secure a $1.4 billion loan from the European Commission in order to build the plant.
Scott, who has spent more than two decades in the renewable energy industry, said the technology was advancing fast.
“We can see solar panels coming down from China and Russia,” he said.
“In the next decade or so, we will have them in every corner of the world, including parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.”
The technology is rapidly advancing.
“The town of 10,000 is located just 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Edinburgh, and is on the Scottish Border, in Loch Ness.
Scott pointed out that in the late 1960s, it took only one year to get the first solar panel installed at a small coal power station near the town.
He said that, since then, solar panels have been installed in more than 40 other parts of Scotland and are now being installed across the country.
Scott added that the country’s first solar power facility, which was built in 2014, could supply electricity to more than 10,500 homes.”
There is a lot of enthusiasm for solar, but we need to get more people into the industry,” he told The Scottish Sun.”
This is not just about getting people in the car.
It is about getting them out of the house and into the house.
“We are talking about putting a roof over their head and a roof that could last them for generations.”
The Spittlys solar power project will cost $3.4 million, according to a press release from the town, and will be completed by 2021.
Scott said he expected the project to provide up to a 10 per cent increase in the local economy over the course of the project.
“I think that if it goes ahead, we could actually see the cost fall substantially,” he added.
“It will give people a sense of pride, and I think it will be a fantastic opportunity for the community to build on.”
Follow Ian on Twitter: @IanDundas