The Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy aims to transform Scotland’s buildings and the systems that supply their heat, ensuring a transition to net zero emissions and addressing fuel poverty commitments. Scotland has a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by 2045 and this aim directly affects the heating in our homes and buildings.
Over the course of the next Parliament term, the Scottish Government will invest almost £1.8 billion of capital funding in heat and energy efficiency to help secure the accelerated rollout of both energy efficiency and zero emissions heat measures. A substantial proportion of this investment will be targeted at supporting those least able to pay for the transition, including those in fuel poverty.
Scotland’s 2.5 million homes account for around 13% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the 2045 net zero target, we must turn our attention to our homes and buildings. Based on data from the 2019 Scottish House Condition Survey:
Most homes (81%) use mains gas as their heating fuel.
42% of non-domestic buildings are on EPC band G and around 50% using HVAC
Just 278,000 households (around 11%) are heated using a renewable or low carbon system.
And while the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes is improving, around 55% of properties are still rated below the recommended minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘C’.
Where Scotland needs to be
Both heat decarbonisation and action on energy efficiency are identified as key areas within the Heat in Buildings Strategy. By 2030, emissions from homes and buildings will have to fall by 68% against 2020 levels. This will require:
The vast majority of the 170,000 off-gas homes (currently using fossil fuels) switching to zero emissions heating systems.
At least 1 million on-gas homes switching to zero emission heating alternatives.
An estimated 50,000 non-domestic buildings switching to zero emission heating alternatives.
By 2030 a large majority of homes to achieve an EPC rating of C, with all homes meeting at least this standard by 2033 (where technically and legally feasible and cost-effective).
The Energy Efficient Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) aims to maximise the number of social rented homes achieving EPC B by 2032 and requires that no social housing should be re-let if the rating is lower than EPC D from 2025, subject to some temporary exemptions.
Private rented homes to be EPC C by 2028 (where technically feasible and cost-effective).
All homes with households in fuel poverty to reach an energy efficiency rating equivalent to EPC C by 2030 and equivalent to EPC B by 2040 (where technically feasible, cost-effective and affordable).
Multi-tenure or mixed-use buildings will be given until 2040-2045 to improve both their energy efficiency and install a zero-emissions heat supply.
The Scottish Government has also committed (subject to technological developments and reserved decisions) to phasing out the need to install new or replacement fossil fuel boilers:
In off-gas areas from 2025.
In on-gas areas from 2030.
Impact on businesses
The Scottish Government has phased out funding for fossil fuel heating systems where it is not detrimental to its fuel poverty objectives. It’s also taking action to support the deployment of technologies such as heat pumps in buildings off the gas network and heat networks, and will continue to prioritise action on energy efficiency.
As many as 16,400 jobs could be supported each year at the peak of the transition in Scotland by the rollout of zero emission heating systems.