WWF Scotland calls for huge increase to number of homes being converted to renewable home heating
A new report is calling for a huge increase in public spending to move our homes away from a reliance on fossil fuel heating.
WWF Scotland, which commissioned the study, said much more rapid change was needed if the country was to hit its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2045.
Around half of all Scotland’s energy usage is for heating, with the majority of that coming from gas. Scottish Renewables says that just six per cent of our heating is 'green'.
The report from Vivid Economics says that if current rates of energy efficiency and clean heating are not improved, Scotland will either be stuck burning large amounts of damaging fossil fuels in 2045, or will risk a disruptive, rushed and costly exercise to rapidly retrofit clean heating systems in the 2030s.
It calls for a doubling of the number of homes being retrofitted with energy efficiency upgrades and a doubling of Scottish Government funding for home energy efficiency to £250 million per year.
In addition, it says that 70,000 homes each year will need to have a renewable heating system installed between now and 2050 – compared to between 1000 and 2000 homes per year currently.
It also wants to see a new Scottish renewable heat-pump grant created, with hundreds of millions of pounds of Scottish Government investment per year, to expand the usage of renewable heat-pumps in Scotland.
The report, Delivering on net zero: next steps for Scotland, also states the need for the combination of a long-term national plan to phase out fossil fuel heating through regulation, and local strategies devised by local authorities. It argues that this long-term approach will ensure the supply chain has the policy stability needed for it to expand.
It also calls for more funding support and policy action across the whole economy, with additional action in the transport, agriculture, land use, forestry and industry sectors.
Robin Parker, climate and energy policy manager at WWF Scotland, said: “Fossil fuel heating is a major cause of climate pollution in Scotland, and it’s the next big frontier for reducing emissions, that we need to address properly if we are to play our full part in responding to the climate emergency.
“While there is some scope for individuals to ensure that their homes are not wasting heat, most of this change needs to be led by government, working with local authorities. When it comes to replacing a boiler, unlike buying a new car, the consumer is in the hands of the installer, so government financial support and regulation are the main way we can make a difference.
“We have all the technological answers we need, there are already thousands of Scots enjoying warm, renewably heated homes, free from fossil fuels. That’s something we should all be able to enjoy, just as it is already the norm in many other northern European countries. By investing in cosy, green homes, the Scottish Government can respond to the climate emergency, protect fuel poor and vulnerable households, and create a new renewable heating industry in Scotland.”
Maarten Hage, senior economist at Vivid Economics, said: “This new report translates the new net zero 2045 target into the implications for the scale and pace of change required. For example, heat pumps will need to be installed at a far greater rate than the current installation rate of gas boilers.
“We are beyond the point of fitting in with existing replacement cycles of heating equipment, and delay will increase costs. Scotland is well placed to make this transition, and by learning lessons from approaches overseas, such as capital cost subsidies and involvement of local authorities, the transition is achievable.”
Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said the advice in the report would also offer benefits to the wider economy.
He said: "While three-quarters of Scotland’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, just six per cent of our heat is green.
"As this report shows, public funding has a role to play in growing this new industry and producing the cost reductions which come with deployment at scale, but the lack of certainty created by both the UK and Scottish governments is pushing industry towards a cliff-edge when current support schemes end.
"Renewable heat is a huge opportunity for Scotland, with heat pumps manufactured in Glasgow and Livingston already making the most of our plentiful supplies of green electricity. With the right policies in place our industry can deliver the carbon reductions needed to tackle climate change alongside economic benefits which will be felt across Scotland."