Scottish investment call to support move away from fossil fuel heating


A new report makes the case that if Scotland is to successfully end its contribution to climate change by 2045, there has to be a significant increase in public spending to help move homes and other buildings away from a reliance on fossil fuel heating.

Currently around half of all Scotland’s energy usage is for heating, with the majority of that coming from fossil fuel gas. 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.

The report ‘Delivering on net zero: next steps for Scotland’ from Vivid Economics and commissioned by WWF Scotland sets out that:

• The number of homes needing energy efficiency upgrades should double to 80,000 per year.

Scottish Government funding for home energy efficiency should be doubled from around £125million to £250million per year.

• On average, 70,000 homes per year will need to have a renewable heating system installed every year between now and 2050 compared to between 1,000 to 2,000 homes per year currently.

• A new Scottish renewable heat-pump grant should be 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 also states the need for the combination of a long-term national plan to regulate out fossil fuel heating, and local strategies devised by local authorities. This long-term approach will ensure that the supply chain has the policy stability needed for it to expand. The Scottish Government should also invest in support for the skills and training needed for this heating transition.

The report finds that new funding support and policy action is required across the whole economy to ensure Scotland is on a pathway to achieve the new net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2045. Analysis suggests that current policy is not sufficient even to meet the old weaker targets, so significant new action is crucial now that the new Climate Act has been passed. Additional action from Scottish Government is also required in the transport, agriculture, land use, forestry and industry sectors.

Robin Parker at WWF Scotland said: “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.

Maarten Hage 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