Paul Wheelhouse MSP spoke at Scottish Renewables’ Low-Carbon Heat Conference in Perth to address topics including climate change, renewable heat and the new Energy Strategy for Scotland.
He told delegates: “Scotland is already a world-leader in tackling climate change, with among the most ambitious statutory targets in the world and strong progress to date, with a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.
“However, we have to achieve more and, as the First Minister announced last month, we will establish a new and more testing target for 2020 of reducing actual Scottish emissions by at least 50%.
“Our approach to heat in particular offers many exciting opportunities – not only helping us to deliver on our climate change ambitions, but also contributing to our efforts to promote growth and tackle inequalities – particularly fuel poverty.
“We are developing a new, overarching Energy Strategy for Scotland, which means developing a ‘whole systems approach’ considering Scotland’s energy supply and consumption as equal priorities, and building a genuinely integrated approach to power, transport and heat.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland has made great progress in the generation of renewable power, but over half the energy we use each year is to heat our homes, offices and industry.
“We need to place a much greater emphasis on moving to cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels or we will never meet our future climate change targets.
“Things like district heating could also have a positive impact on wider challenges such as the high number of households living in fuel poverty, and give a boost to the construction and engineering sectors at a time when other energy markets are struggling.”
Changes to the way renewable heat technology like heat pumps, solar thermal panels and biomass boilers are supported were high on the agenda at the event.