Increasing energy efficiency of homes must be at heart of Energy Strategy, says SFHA

solar-panel-array-stock home energyThe Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has welcomed the publication of Scotland’s first ever integrated energy roadmap by the Scottish Government but has called for the strategy to include greater emphasis on increasing the energy efficiency of homes.

Published yesterday, the draft Scottish Energy Strategy proposed a landmark new target for half of all Scotland’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

It sets out a vision for 2050 for Scotland to have a modern, integrated energy system that delivers reliable, low carbon energy at affordable prices to consumers in all parts of Scotland.

Announcing the publication, minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said the Strategy will build upon the existing economic strengths of the energy sector in Scotland, while protecting energy security and setting out the government’s approach to tackling fuel poverty.

The vision will be supported next month when Holyrood will announce details of up to £50 million in funding to be awarded to 13 projects across Scotland, which will demonstrate low carbon or renewable electricity, heating or storage solutions.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “The decisions we make about Scotland’s energy future are among the most important choices we face as a society. Safe, reliable and affordable energy underpins the continued growth of the Scottish economy, and safeguards the delivery of key services upon which individuals and communities depend. Achieving our vision is also crucial to efforts to tackle fuel poverty and to preventing the damaging effects of climate change, as part of the global community’s fight to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius or less.”

David Stewart, SFHA policy lead, said increasing energy efficiency of homes is the most effective method of reducing carbon emissions.

He added: “The SFHA welcomes the publication of the draft Scottish Energy Strategy and its ambition to provide a coherent roadmap to a low carbon energy system in Scotland by 2050. We are also pleased to see the commitment to increase the use of renewable energy to meet domestic supply needs.

“However, we would like the Energy Strategy to acknowledge that the most effective method of reducing carbon emissions is by reducing the need for energy use in the first instance – and this can be done by increasing the energy efficiency of homes. We therefore call on the Scottish Government to put this at the heart of the strategy – not only is increasing home energy efficiency the most cost effective way to lower carbon emissions, but it reduces fuel poverty and creates jobs and training through insulating and retrofitting our existing homes.

“With an ambition to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources, it is vital that we invest in energy efficiency to insulate households against the effects of likely increased prices as we move from gas to renewable heat. We believe that this should be achieved through a long-term investment programme and by setting minimum energy efficiency standards for all of Scotland’s homes.”

WWF Scotland said the new Strategy provides a powerful signal about Scotland’s new energy future.

Welcoming the renewable energy target, Gina Hanrahan, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to see many of our ideas brought forward in this strategy, especially a new target to secure half of all Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The new all energy target sends a strong message to business and industry, both here and globally, that Scotland plans to build on its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors.

“A transformation in how we heat our homes and offices, how we travel to work and school, and how we power our industries will generate many social and economic benefits.  Research shows that generating half of our energy from renewables by 2030 is both necessary and achievable. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to make sure that policies are in place to deliver on this target, which enjoys strong cross-party and public support.”

On proposals for Scotland’s new energy efficiency programme, Hanrahan said: “The new information fails to put enough meat on the bones of the Scottish Government’s commitment to transform the energy efficiency of existing homes. With 1.5million cold homes in Scotland, these proposals are too slow and underfunded, especially when greater investment could create up to 9,000 jobs across the country.  Ministers must set an objective for a new programme supporting all homes to reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate ‘C’ band by 2025.”

On a consultation on extensive new proposals to expand district heating, Hanrahan added: “Heat networks will need to expand in Scotland’s major cities to help tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions from heating our buildings and industry. The Scottish Government’s welcome proposals for local heat plans and district heating regulation should help bring affordable, low carbon heat to many more people in cities and towns across the country.”

As well as setting ambitious targets, the draft Scottish Energy Strategy also seeks views on a number of issues including:

  • A renewed focus on energy efficiency – taking a targeted approach to reducing demand and transforming homes and businesses across Scotland, including through investment in district heating;
  • Establishment of a Scottish Government owned energy company and its potential remit in meeting Scotland’s energy needs; and
  • The potential role for renewable energy bonds.

Mr Wheelhouse added: “I am very keen to ensure this strategy, which helps to underpin key aspects of the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan which was published last week, is infused with the thoughts and views of people from right across Scotland and I would strongly encourage everyone to participate.”

The consultation on the draft Energy Strategy will run until May 30.