Green homes revolution ‘could boost Scottish GDP by £8bn’
A lack of understanding and awareness of environmentally-friendly technologies could be holding Scotland back from a green homes revolution which could boost its economy by £8 billion, according to WWF Scotland.
The climate and nature charity said an infrastructure programme to expand insulation activity and the construction of heat networks could create at least 9,000 jobs across Scotland, while supporting all homes to be warm, comfortable and energy efficient.
However, it warned that a failure to understand the technology required, and its economic and social benefits, could be preventing Scotland from capitalising on the opportunity.
An economic, social and environmental package, WWF’s green new deal for homes would include:
- Bringing all homes up to a minimum standard of energy efficiency by 2030
- Building many new low-carbon heat networks over the next five years
- Switching hundreds of thousands of homes from fossil fuel heating to heat pumps by 2030
Explaining the proposals, Fabrice Leveque, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “A quarter of people in Scotland are living in fuel poverty. And with more people than ever before working from home, and many of us dreading the high fuel bills that come in each winter, proper investment in energy efficiency and better housing will help cut energy bills, tackle poverty and slash emissions.
“A sustained programme of investment in energy efficiency for our homes would create thousands of jobs, and boost GDP by at least £8bn. For every £1 invested, it would deliver £5 back. It would also prepare homes for low-carbon heating systems like heat networks and heat pumps.
“We’re also calling for clear ambition from government on deploying tried and tested heat network technology in towns and cities across Scotland. This would give local manufacturers and installers the green light to get to work.”
However, while Scotland could be on the brink of a heating revolution, lack of awareness about the technologies and their economic benefits could be holding us back, the charity says.
Mr Leveque added: “Scotland already has some great examples of low-carbon heat projects, from innovative heat networks in Stirling to UK-leading insulation programmes that are making low-income households more energy efficient, healthier and warmer.
“With better awareness of the technologies, systems and benefits, as well as a clear steer from government, local authorities and businesses could get to work now on creating jobs and warmer homes. This would lead to tenants and home -owners reaping the benefits of warmer homes and better air quality.”
The Scottish Government launched new cashback incentives last year to help householders pay for improving home energy efficiency and low-carbon heating solutions.
People will be able to apply for 75% cashback up to the value of £7,500 towards the cost of a renewable heating system and a further 40% cashback up to £6,000 for installing energy efficiency measures. The incentive is available on a first-come-first-served basis until the end of financial year 2020/21. Installing an electric heat pump in a home currently heated by oil could cut climate emissions by 75% and lead to lower energy bills if carried out alongside energy efficiency improvements.
It is expected to help reduce emissions from inefficient homes, while saving householders money on bills in the long term and helping improve health by ensuring warmer homes.