Social landlords are being urged to apply for their share of a multimillion pound fund to support the transition to zero emissions heating systems as part of Scotland’s climate change targets.

The Scottish Government is making £100 million available over the next five years to support social housing projects across Scotland to install zero carbon technologies and energy efficiency measures “across their existing stock”. 

The 2021 invitation for the ‘social housing net zero heat fund’ has a minimum allocation of £20m, and projects that “effectively contribute” to Scotland’s ambitions to achieve net zero by 2045 have been asked to submit an application. 

Achieving emissions reductions in buildings will require over one million homes to convert to using zero or low emissions heating systems by 2030. 

Scotland has legally binding targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, with interim targets requiring a 75 per cent reduction by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2040.

The call for funding applications, which was launched in August, reads: “Reducing emissions from our homes and buildings is one of the most important things we can to do help end Scotland’s contribution to climate change.

“We must rapidly scale up deployment of zero emissions heating systems, such as heat pumps and heat networks as set we stated in the draft Heat in Buildings Strategy.”

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) welcomed the government’s targets on reducing emissions in homes and buildings, which are “clearly necessary”.

But chief executive Sally Thomas said the commitment to a £100 million net zero heat fund “represents only a fraction of the investment needed to support the improvements needed.”

She added: “If we are to protect those on the lowest incomes from bearing the costs of getting to net-zero carbon emissions, social landlords need additional funding.”

Thomas co-chairs the Zero Emission Social Housing Taskforce, which recently published a series of recommendations addressing the financial, technical and social challenges of energy transition.

She said: “We also see the previous [local government, housing and planning] minister’s creation of the Zero Emissions Social Housing Taskforce as a strong commitment to work in partnership with the sector.

“However, a significant challenge remains in developing the technical and financial delivery framework and actions needed to achieve both the net zero targets and the ambition to eradicate fuel poverty.

“While the social housing sector is well placed to drive innovation and help build the supply chain for zero emission technologies, there is uncertainty around both the capital and operational costs – and the available funding options going forward.

“Yet, social landlords need to make financial decisions now which will affect their ability to meet these longer-term targets. Ensuring homes are safe and compliant with new regulations comes at a cost, as does building new stock to meet the outstanding need for affordable social homes in Scotland.”

In addition to more capital investment, the federation believes the Scottish Government should now “take action” on preparing and developing the supply chain, and to lead wider public engagement on the need for change.

For the new funding invitation there are two themes: ‘zero emissions heating system for social housing across Scotland’, and ‘”fabric first” energy efficiency only projects’.

The first focuses on supporting the development of projects that can deliver innovative technologies and integrated zero emissions heating systems that deliver reliable, affordable heat to social housing in all parts of Scotland. It includes technologies such as air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and high heat retention storage heaters.

The second is to support the development of projects that are focusing on installing energy efficiency measures within social housing. Measures like loft insulation, double or secondary glazing and under-floor insulation, are included.