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Solar power records across Scotland broken in heatwave

Figures released today show that north-east solar panels massively boosted Scotland’s overall solar power output.
Figures released today show that north-east solar panels massively boosted Scotland’s overall solar power output.

Scorching temperatures across the north and north-east have led to a huge surge in the amount of household electricity being supplied by solar power.

Weeks of unusually hot temperatures and clear blue skies in June meant that more people were using renewable energy during the month than in years prior.

Figures released today show that north-east solar panels massively boosted Scotland’s overall solar power output, with the level generated in Aberdeen and Lerwick higher than in previous years.

In Aberdeen, 136% of average household electricity demand was provided by solar power alone last month, compared to 85% last June.

And in Lerwick the figure was 117%, up from 95% last June.

Aberdeen also had 100% of average household hot water provided by solar power, compared to 86% last June.

That figure was 97% in Lerwick, which was a slight rise from 92% in 2017.

There are hopes that the level of solar power generated in the north-east is poised to grow further in subsequent years, with a 50 megawatt solar farm near Elgin in the works.

In May, Elgin Energy received planning permission for the scheme, which will transform the former Milltown Airfield into largest solar farm in the country.

The solar farm will occupy approximately 115 hectares of the former RAF site on land owned by the Innes Estate, and it is expected to start supplying power within the next five years.

Across the UK, solar power produced eight gigawatts of energy on eight consecutive days, which a spokeswoman for the National Grid described as “practically unheard of”.

At the peak of the heatwave, on Monday, June 25, enough solar energy was generated to power Scotland’s 2.37 million households for more than three hours.

For about an hour on Saturday afternoon, solar panels across the country’s rooftops and fields were the number one source of electricity, with a share of more than 27%.

So far, solar has only come top at weekends, when demand is lower.

The record for peak solar generation was 9.42 gigawatts, set on May 14 this year.

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, which released the figures, said: “June was certainly a bumper month for solar power as we basked in a heatwave.

“Renewables are a key component of our power system, cutting emission and creating jobs.”

Alex Wilcox Brooke, Weather Energy Project Manager at Severn Wye Energy Agency said: “In the midst of the current heatwave it’s no surprise that June has been a hugely productive month for solar energy.

“Luckily for us this has been accompanied by a cool breeze with wind output higher than expected for this time of year.”

In 2015, Scotland achieved its 50% target of gross annual electricity consumption from renewable energy.

The country is now on track to achieve its target of 100% by 2020.

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