Environmental campaigners believe the north-east could become a “hotspot” for solar energy after Scotland’s biggest solar farm project was approved for the region.
About 200,000 solar panels will be spread across the derelict former RAF Milltown base, near Lhanbryde in Moray, to transform the site.
Once complete it will be about four times the size of the biggest one that is currently operational, which is on the Errol Estate in Perthshire.
Developer Elgin Energy, which has previously focused on the south of England, targeted Moray for the project due to the area’s huge amount of daylight hours during the summer while retaining easy connections to transmit the energy.
Stephanie Conesa, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “With most of Scotland enjoying sunshine, it seems like perfect timing for this announcement.
“It may come as a surprise to many that the electrical potential of a solar array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales.
“Scotland really can be a hotspot for this type of green energy. It is low cost, popular and it absolutely must be in the country’s mix to meet its 50% renewable target by 2030.”
Elgin Energy already has permission to build a separate solar farm at Speyslaw, near Urquhart, which will have about 80,000 solar panels.
Combined, the firm’s two projects in Moray are expected to be able to power 21,000 homes or 26,000 electric cars for a year.
RAF Milltown was decommissioned in the 1970s, has since been used for HGV testing and was previously suggested as a base for outdoor adventure charity Outfit Moray.
Once the solar panel is operational it will remain as a home for sheep to graze on.
Yesterday, WWF Scotland called on the UK Government to create avenues to allow solar energy to make a bigger contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
Acting director Sam Gardner said: “After many parts of Scotland have been basking in sunshine over recent days, it is great to see this large solar farm granted planning permission.
“We’re calling on the UK Government to provide a route to market solar to ensure it can make its full contribution.”
Despite its name, Elgin Energy has no historical connections to the Moray town. The firm was named after the street it was founded on in Dublin.