Transforming Scotland’s Buildings
20/07/2021 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
- Patrick Brown, Capital Programme Team Senior Manager – City of Edinburgh Council
The Committee on Climate Change brought out their Net Zero report which makes it clear that Scotland’s buildings will need to move entirely over to low-carbon heating systems by 2050 at the latest. Boiler lifetimes of around 15 years imply that markets and supply chains for low-carbon heating need to scale up to cover all new installations in Scotland by the first half of the 2030s.
The current expectation is that low-carbon heating will have higher financial costs than continuing to operate fossil gas boilers. This points to the need for energy efficiency to improve more quickly, and further innovation and investment is also required to drive down installation costs while continuing to improve quality.
As these changes are taking place, resilience measures also need to be included to make homes safe and comfortable in the changing climate, including passive cooling, water efficiency and flood protection.
A clear direction is needed for both buildings heat and efficiency in Scotland. The Energy Efficient Scotland Programme has set good foundations for this overall strategy and is nearing completion. The Scottish Government – in close collaboration with the UK Government, which has reserved control over key policy levers – should produce an ambitious strategy for heat that complements the Energy Efficient Scotland Programme. This must set the direction for the next 30 years, reaching zero emissions from Scotland’s buildings by 2050 at the very latest, and by 2045 if possible. A clear, loud and stable signal for the future market is vital to unlocking the overall challenge:
- There should be clear trajectories of standards across the housing stock for both efficiency and carbon performance, culminating in a phase-out of the installation of new oil and gas boilers, by the late-2020s and mid-2030s at the latest, respectively. Some exemptions may be suitable, for example where an area has a clear and costed plan to switch over to low-carbon hydrogen.
- Electrification, alongside low-carbon district heating schemes where viable, should offer the primary route to zero-carbon heating systems, with a possible supplementary role for hydrogen in providing flexibility for different regional solutions and/or for managing peak demand. BEIS will need to signal how it, alongside Ofgem, intends to manage decisions over the future of the gas grid.
- Hybrid heating systems (e.g. with a heat pump installed alongside a gas boiler) can play a useful role both on and off the gas grid, at least over the next decade and possibly beyond.
- Standards should encourage holistic building designs and retrofit opportunities that incentivise low-carbon heat and energy efficiency, while ensuring buildings are resilient to the future impacts of climate change.
‘Content from 2020 Progress Report to Scottish Parliament | Committee on Climate Change’
We are hosting a series of technical sessions to discuss the steps needing to be taken in 2021 to lay the foundations for achieving these longer-term objectives.
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