The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation to accelerate the deployment of heat networks, cutting emissions, reducing fuel poverty and creating green jobs.
On 23 February, the Scottish government announced that Scotland had become the first country in the UK to legislate to support the growth of heat networks. The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill creates a new licensing system to drive up standards across the sector, improving customer confidence, allowing clusters of homes and businesses to get heating from a central source, rather than individual fossil fuel boilers.
Scotland is aiming for 650,000 homes to be connected to heat networks by 2030, up from 32,000, requiring a significant expansion of the supply chain. Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said he believes the Bill lays “strong foundations” to meet this ambition.
It also creates new rights for heat network developers and operators, levelling up the playing field with other utilities, ensuring investment in the sector becomes more attractive, encouraging further growth. A new consent system will also be introduced. This will make sure that the new networks are developed in areas where they will have the most benefit and are tailored to its needs.
The Scottish government further revealed that a National Comprehensive Assessment (NCA) is being undertaken to establish the technical and cost-competitive potential for heat networks. The UK-wide analysis, set to be published in the spring, is expected to indicate deployment of heat networks can deliver environmental benefits on a greater scale than currently projected – as it stands, they are projected to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 90,000 cars by 2050, generating annual fuel savings of around £130 for every household connecting to a network.