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04 January 2021


Transforming how we heat our homes and buildings could be a cornerstone of a just and green economic recovery post-COVID says WWF Scotland.

An infrastructure programme to expand insulation activity and the construction of heat networks could create at least 9,000 jobs [1] across the country, while supporting all homes to be warm, comfortable and energy efficient.

However, a lack of understanding and awareness of the technologies and their economic and social benefits could be holding us back, the charity warns.

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 £8billion. For every £1 invested, it would deliver £5 back [2]. 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.

Leveque explained:

“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 cash-back incentives in December 2020 to help householders pay for improving home energy efficiency and low-carbon heating solutions [see case study 2].

Case Study 1

Stirling Council recently constructed a new heat network taking excess heat from a waste- water treatment plant to heat commercial buildings in the Forthside area of the city.  FES Group was contracted to design and build the district heat scheme which involved the installation of 2.5km of underground pipework and a fibre communication network along the Forthside Way. The project also included the installation of heat substations to facilitate the district heating connection to live operational existing properties including a high school, leisure centre, sports stadium and office buildings. [3]

Convener of Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee, Councillor Jim Thomson, said:

“We’re proud to have broken new ground with this innovative low-carbon heat network, which also demonstrates the economic opportunities available from the shift to more sustainable heating.

“We were pleased to see much of the construction work go to local firms and hope to expand this network in future to serve more areas of the city.”

 Stirling Council Vice Convener, Councillor Danny Gibson, said:

“This pioneering project, which is helping to reduce environmental impact through fewer carbon emissions and recycling of waste resources, showcases our determination to lead the way on this important issue.

“The facility at Forthside will also help generate additional future income and provide employment opportunities through jobs in the growing renewables sector.”

Duncan K Fletcher, Vice-Chairman of FES Group said:

"Sustainability is vital for homes, businesses and services and using the blend of technologies demonstrated at the Stirling district heat project is a great example of what can be achieved using alternative resources to their maximum benefit. It also highlights the business opportunities we can expect to open up as Scotland moves towards a net zero future.”


Case Study 2

The Scottish Government has recently launched a new cashback incentive to encourage home- owners to install energy efficiency and renewable heat measures in their homes. People will be able to apply for 75 per cent cashback up to the value of £7,500 towards the cost of a renewable heating system and a further 40 per cent 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.  [4]

Notes to editors:

[1] 9,000 jobs estimate comes from the following reports, outlining 6,000 jobs estimated from energy efficiency and 3,000 estimated from heat network investment.

Energy efficiency jobs: University of Strathclyde, 2018, Potential wider economic impacts of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme

Heat network investment jobs: IPPR, 2017, The Opportunity for Heat Networks in a New Industrial Strategy and ADE, 2018, Market Report: Heat Networks in the UK.

[2] Both figures from University of Strathclyde, 2018, Potential wider economic impacts of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme

[3] Stirling Council Forthside scheme

FES Group

[4] Scottish Government cash back incentive


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