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Solar Panels in Scotland – Costs, Savings & Grants

With the current state of energy prices, it makes more sense now than ever to invest in solar panels. 

Scotland isn’t typically noted for its levels of sunshine and therefore isn’t necessarily considered the ideal country for solar panels. However, with longer daylight hours than in other parts of the UK in the summer months, it makes solar panels in Scotland a genuine option.

Considering recent spiralling energy bills, have you given any thought to the possibility of making an investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for your home in Scotland, or are you even thinking about using solar energy to power your business?

Solar panels, whether installed in the UK or elsewhere, are an economical and dependable method of producing environmentally friendly electricity for many years into the future for a variety of reasons.

What are the Benefits of Having Solar Energy in Scotland?

benefits of solar energy in scotland

Solar panels are increasingly producing a high amount of useful renewable energy in Scotland. As a result, solar panels are becoming a significant factor in the market for renewable energy in Scotland.

The percentage of electricity produced in Scotland that comes from renewable sources has increased from 31% in 2011 to 74% in 2018.  On top of that, interim figures indicated that in 2020, the equivalent of 97.4% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption was from renewable sources.

Despite the fact that solar power only makes up a small percentage of the total amount of green energy in Scotland, this sector of the industry is expanding rapidly. Solar power is advantageous for a number of reasons, one of which is that it can be put to use not only for industrial but also for residential applications.

Is planning permission required for solar panels in Scotland?

It is not necessary to obtain any sort of planning permission in order to install solar panels in Scotland. As long as they are below a specific size they are usually considered permitted development.

If the property you are intending to install solar PV is a listed building or is in a conservation area of World Heritage, then extra care will need to be taken and will require consultation with the local planning officer.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy Solar Panels in Scotland?

A solar panel system with a capacity of 5 kW, which is the most common size for a household with four people, can be expected to cost between £6,000 and £7,000, according to a realistic cost estimate.

do you need planning permission in scotland for solar panels

However, it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the cost of a system because the cost is determined by a number of factors, such as the type of solar panel and the size of the system.

The price of solar panels has significantly decreased over the course of time and is currently at its all-time low point, despite the fact that they are still considered expensive by many. Since 2010, the price of solar energy systems for homes has dropped by approximately 70%. This is primarily attributable to advancements in the technologies utilised at each stage of the production chain, as well as an increase in the demand for solar panels all over the world.

You can get an idea of the falling cost of solar globally by looking at these costs – the price paid for every watt of solar capacity installed (£/W) – over the years:

YearThe median price of a residential solar panel system (£/W)

Source: Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun Report (2022)

How much can solar panels in Scotland save a household each year?

Annual bill savings for households having solar PV panels fitted can be significant, though the savings will be dependent on how much you are at home during the day, and therefore running electrical appliances at peak solar panel production during daylight hours.

By way of an example of how much a household in Scotland could save with solar panels, the Energy Saving Trust has produced the following estimated annual savings based on a property in Stirling and April 2023 figures:

Home occupancyAnnual savings (£/year) without SEG
Home all-day£465
Home in mornings£365
Home in afternoons£330
Out all day until 4 pm£230
Out all day until 6 pm£190


Can You Get Free Solar Panels in Scotland?

The installation of free solar panels is not really an option in Scotland any longer. During the time that the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) programme was being implemented, a number of solar panel companies made the offer to install solar panels in exchange for payment from the FIT (which would ordinarily have gone to the homeowners).

On the other hand, there are other solar panel schemes and grants available, both locally and nationally, that can assist in the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy while saving money. These schemes and grants are available.

In addition, the cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically over the past few years, which has made it possible for a greater number of people to acquire solar energy systems.

Can You Get a Grant to Install Solar Panels in Scotland?

Grants to install solar PV systems are available to residents of Scotland to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes, assist with energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.

Grants are available through Warmer Homes Scotland and ECO4. Both of these programmes have different eligibility criteria to determine who could receive a grant, usually based on income, benefits, and energy efficiency performance of their home.

Additionally, Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) is a grant of up to £150,000 for growing communities and local energy projects. This grant is directed toward groups of organisations that would like to share the ownership of energy installations.

The Warm Homes Fund (WHF) is a fund provided by the National Grid that has a total allocation of £150 million and is intended to encourage the installation of contemporary heating solutions in fuel-poor households that do not have access to mains gas.

To further encourage the uptake of solar PV panels, households in Scotland can also benefit from 0% VAT on the installation of energy-efficient improvements, including solar panel installation.

The Scottish Government's Smart Export Guarantee

Homeowners in Scotland, England, and Wales who are equipped with solar panels can participate in a programme known as the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which enables them to earn money by selling excess energy back to the grid.

Users are at liberty to enter into short-term contracts with a variety of energy providers, and they are typically afforded the option of selecting between fixed and variable pricing structures.

The vast majority of energy operators charge rates that are greater than what the government’s FIT used to be. In a free energy market, business owners will place higher bids in order to secure themselves a portion of the business from repeat customers.


How Much Money Can You Make With SEG?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) provides an opportunity for small-scale renewable energy generators to be paid for the excess electricity they generate with their solar installation. These payments can increase the annual savings compared to a household that does not benefit from SEG

The estimated annual savings (based on April 2023 figures) for a solar PV system property in Stirling with SEG would be as follows:

Home occupancyAnnual savings (£/year) with SEGAdditional savings with SEG
Home all-day£545 £85
Home in mornings£460 £95
Home in afternoons£430£100
Out all day until 4 pm£345£115
Out all day until 6 pm£310 £120

Is It Cost-Effective to Install Solar Panels in Scotland?

In the long run, owning a solar system can save you a significant amount of money, which can help to offset the initial expense of purchasing solar panels. While exporting electricity can generate up to £120 per year in revenue, the average annual savings on the electricity bill could be up to £465 per year, though the savings will depend on how much the householders are at home during the day. (Source: Energy Saving Trust and based on April 2023 figures).

Integrating your solar panels with a solar battery storage system is an alternative that can further optimise your home’s energy supply while also increasing the amount of money you save. The battery is designed to store any excess electricity that is generated during the day so that it can be made accessible in the evening and night when your power comes from the national grid. You will be able to cut costs, reach full energetic self-sufficiency, and make use of green energy in its entirety if you do it this way.

In order to assist your solar panel system in achieving its highest possible efficiency, you should pay attention to a few specifics regarding the cleaning and maintenance of your solar panels. Even the most efficient solar panels can have their output reduced if they are not positioned at the correct angle or given the right amount of exposure to light.

If you live in the northeastern corner of Scotland, for instance, you should position your solar panels so that they face somewhere between the southwest and the southeast at an angle of between 33 and 43 degrees. You need to double-check that there are no trees casting a shadow over the solar panels.

How quickly would the cost of a solar installation be covered by the savings?

While a solar installation can at first seem an expensive investment, the savings you could make on electricity bills, especially when boosted with SEG, can mean that payback can occur in some instances within 12 years. If you receive some form of solar funding, you could see a large portion of the cost covered from the outset, making solar panels in Scotland a much more affordable option.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust (based on October 2022 figures) suggest that a household in Scotland investing in solar power would see payback for their solar investment along the following lines:

Home occupancyWith SEGWithout SEG
Home all-day12 years14 years
Home in mornings14 years18 years
Home in afternoons15 years19 years
Out all day until 4 pm19 yearsNo payback
Out all day until 6 pm21 yearsNo payback

Find An Installer for Solar Panels Scotland

It can be a difficult and time-consuming process to find the ideal photovoltaic solar system for your needs. In light of the fact that solar panels come with an upfront cost, it is of the utmost importance to find a solar panel system that not only meets your requirements but is also reliable over the course of its use.

You should look to find solar installers who can not only help you with installation but can also assist with any available grant funding.

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