A record amount of Scotland’s heating is being generated by renewables, according to a new report.
Figures published by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government show that 2015 had the largest increase in renewable heat output since measurement began in 2008/09.
During the year, Scotland generated at least 5.3% of its non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources, up from 3.8% in 2014.
Renewable sources produced an estimated 4,165 GWh (Gigawatt hours) of heat, an increase of 37% from the previous year.
The majority of the increase came from large commercial sites installing biomass and combined heat and power systems, and from installations supported by the UK Government’s non-domestic renewable heat incentive, which offers financial incentives for those who generate and use renewable energy to heat their buildings.
Capacity from small-scale biomass and other technologies such as heat pumps also rose by 44% between 2014 and 2015.
The Scottish Government’s target is for 11% of non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources by 2020.
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Heat makes up more than 50% of Scotland’s current energy consumption and approximately 47% of our emissions – the largest source for both.
“That is why these record-breaking figures are so encouraging.
“They show that programmes such as the district heating loan scheme, the low carbon infrastructure transition programme and the Home Energy Scotland renewables loans scheme are inspiring people to harness renewable energy to heat their homes and their businesses.
“These and our other programmes support the uptake of the GB-wide renewable heat incentive scheme, in which Scotland continues to punch above its weight.
“That is not to say we should be in any way complacent.
“We have a target of 11% of non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources by 2020 and while these figures show we are making great progress in both reducing our demand for heat and increasing the output of renewable heat, we need to do more.”
Stephanie Clark, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Reducing the amount of heat we use is a first step to tackling emissions linked to the sector and these figures also show welcome headway is being made in improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings.
“If we are to continue this positive progress it’s important that the UK Government clarify the future of the renewable heat incentive, through which technologies like heat pumps are supported, and that public awareness of renewable heat solutions increases.”
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Whilst it’s welcome to see that we’ve broken the 5% barrier for generating heat from renewable sources, we’ve still got a long way to go if we are to secure all the benefits of a transition to a zero-carbon economy.
“This news shows that there’s an expanding market for renewable heat in Scotland.
“We know from opinion-polling that more action to expand renewable heating in Scotland would be popular with the public, with almost two-thirds of people saying they want to see the Scottish Government do more.
“That’s why we’re calling for Scottish ministers to go further, using a Warm Homes Act in Scotland to establish a regulatory framework that supports the growth of renewable and district heating.”