Scottish government sets out plans to transform heating

The Scottish government has mapped out its vision to ensure all buildings in Scotland are warmer, more efficient and net zero by 2045.

On 5 February, it published its draft Heat in Buildings strategy, targeting the transformation of over 1mn homes and around 50,000 non-domestic buildings to use low and zero emission heating systems by 2030. It includes a range of actions and proposals, as well as how it will look to collaborate with the UK government in this area, noting that the shift to zero emission heating systems will directly impact everyone and requires collective action.

It will invest almost £1.6bn in heat and energy efficiency over the course of the next parliament, though private investment will also be needed to drive progress. A Green Heat Finance Task Force will be established to this end, working together with the private sector to leverage the scale of investment needed and develop innovative approaches to finance heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency highlighted as critical across all pathways, technologies and for unlocking deployment of zero emission heating systems, with the Scottish government suggesting all homes will need to achieve energy efficiency levels equivalent to EPC Band C, and pledging action to rapidly scale up deployment rates to ensure at least 64,000 homes install renewable heating systems per year by 2025. It further noted no single technology will deliver zero emission heating, with the most cost effective pathway requiring a range of approaches. Heat pumps and heat networks are key solutions already available, while hydrogen will likely to have a role longer term.

The Scottish government will work with industry, energy networks and regulators to put the right enablers in place for the transition to unfold, including a Heat Electrification Partnership with electricity network operators and collaborate with the gas networks to green Scotland’s gas grid. It will also work to build the evidence base on where hydrogen is most likely to play a role for heating. By 2025, it is aiming to have a new regulatory framework in place for zero emissions heating and energy efficiency, while a new regulatory regime for heat networks should be operational by the end of 2023.

It also pledged to work with the UK government, noting a broad suite of energy market reforms are required, including changes to the way in which policy levies are applied to energy supply and new safeguards to share the cost of transition fairly among consumers.

A consultation on the draft strategy will run until 30 April 2021.