There have been “serious concerns” about the end of financing for solar PV

The collective voice of the construction industry (CICV) has raised “serious concerns” about the Scottish Government’s decision to end funding for photovoltaics (PV) and battery storage under the Home Energy Scotland grants and loan scheme.

Last week, Energy Saving Trust Scotland withdrew funding for batteries and solar panels from the government-funded Home Energy Scotland (HES) Grants and Loan Scheme.

It stated: “Financing for photovoltaic systems and energy storage (electric and thermal batteries) will no longer be offered under the program. From today (June 6, 2024), new customers will not be able to apply for solar PV and battery storage, even if installed together with a heat pump.

Home Energy Scotland previously offered grants worth up to £11,500 and interest-free loans to cover air source heat pumps, solar systems and batteries. However, as of last week, financing for photovoltaic and battery installations was discontinued.

Many heat pump owners see this combination of solar panel and battery combined with an air source heat pump as a key accessory to lowering their electricity bills

Alan Wilson, chair of CICV, a coalition of 29 professional and trade bodies across the UK construction sector, highlighted the potential setbacks the decision poses to Scotland’s efforts to transition to a low carbon economy.

He said: “Solar solar and battery storage is not just about clean energy; they constitute a commitment to long-term economic stability and environmental stewardship. Their exclusion from funding signals a worrying policy change that will undoubtedly discourage investment and innovation in Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

“A stable policy environment is essential for businesses to devote resources to developing, installing and maintaining low-carbon technologies. Current policy volatility has the potential to hinder Scotland’s progress towards achieving its environmental goals and undermine the confidence of market investors and the public.

“It will also significantly impact the training and skills development that renewable energy companies undertake. After numerous false starts related to financing renewable technologies, installers are increasingly wary of training when support is withdrawn so often. Businesses need transparency and certainty to invest successfully, and this unpredictability severely limits their ability to invest.

“This decision also has a direct and profound impact on Scottish households, especially those who are economically disadvantaged. Without financial support, the initial cost of switching to renewable energy sources becomes prohibitive for many. This not only slows individual progress towards energy independence, but also widens socioeconomic gaps in access to clean technologies. Ensuring that all communities have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from Scotland’s energy transition is crucial to its overall success and social equality.

“Going forward, we need to ensure continuity and consistency in our approach to fully realize our low carbon ambitions. An abrupt end to funding for these key technologies could undermine consumer and market confidence in all national low-carbon transition strategies. As always, we stand for dialogue to find a way forward, not to undermine Scotland’s sustainable future.”

Helen Melone, director of heating and solar at Scottish Renewables, said the withdrawal from the scheme meant homeowners installing heat pumps could be more likely to face high energy bills.

“Our concern,” she added, “is that this will impact households’ ability to reduce their own energy bills. It’s a concern about affordability for households.”

“This will have an impact on people who would like to install solar panels on their roofs to protect themselves from large, sudden price shocks like what happened recently when energy bills were very high.”