Is it really the end of the world if we don’t have a sustainable heating future? If you look at many of the renewable heating technologies, they are not cheap to install. Traditional fuel sources, particularly coal, are relatively inexpensive and abundant. In fact, at current production rates, we’ve enough coal to last us until 2170. (1) So why are so many governments, including ours, financially supporting consumers to switch?
The simple reason is fossil fuels create Carbon dioxide (CO2), and many believe that we are producing so much it’s currently pushing us towards global mass extinction. (2) The increase in CO2 heats our air and delivers more extreme weather events and associated disasters, from wildfires to hurricanes and drought to floods. The five years, 2014 to 2018, are the hottest since records began one hundred and thirty-nine years ago. (3)
While in Scotland, the idea of a bit of warmth sounds like a real bonus globally, the implications are horrendous. In July last year, 179 billion tons of ice melted. That’s not the global figure, that’s just in Greenland. The thawing of permafrost in the Arctic is 70 years ahead of predictions. These factors have seen ocean levels rising more quickly than anticipated, with some of our biggest and most economically essential Cities now at risk. (4)
Even those who have been in denial about climate change are finding it impossible to argue with the figures. We are facing a climate emergency. Hurricanes in the USA in 2017 cost the lives of over three thousand people and the American economy nearly 276 billion dollars. (4) The UK has seen floods, Australia has had unprecedented bush fires, and in Scotland, in addition to the floods we’ve seen droughts and snow that have resulted in estimated losses to Scottish agriculture of £161 million in a year. (5)
So what are we doing about it?
Changes are happening but slowly. In the USA, just this month, it was reported that renewable energy is about to outstrip coal use for the first time in the country’s history. (6) The UK government has agreed to a target of zero emissions by 2050 with all our homes switching over to low carbon heating. In the UK, 90% percent of homes are heated using fossil fuels such as gas. A modern, well-insulated home, heated by an up-to-date gas boiler produces around 2.75 tonnes of planet-warming greenhouse gases a year. That’s approximately the equivalent CO2 production of driving a car for just under twelve thousand miles. (7)
Although it may look and feel to some like being railroaded into low carbon heating, there are enormous benefits for us both collectively and individually. The apparent benefits are improved air quality in cities, boosting green jobs, reductions in energy bills, and many long term health benefits associated with reduced pollution.
Our small nation is at the forefront of global renewable energy. We may have less than 1% of the population of Europe, but we are producing twenty-five percent of Europe’s entire offshore wind power resources. Additionally, a quarter of Europe’s tidal energy resources comes from us and ten percent of wave potential. (8) You’d be hard-pressed to find a Scottish city, town, or village without solar panels on roofs, which proves we have an appetite for green energy. Our heating systems are the logical next step.
There’s no getting away from the initial outlay for renewable tech; however, there are more factors to consider. With increasingly high bills for traditional fuels and funding from the Renewable Heat Incentive, many Scots are now looking to heat pumps, solar water heating, and biomass to both warm their homes and add value to their property.
If you’d like some more detailed information, then why not contact Energy How for advice on how much you could save with renewable heating.