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Renewable Heat Action Plan for Scotland: a plan for the promotion of the use of heat from renewable sources



1.1 The Scottish Government has set a target of 11% of the heat consumed in 2020 to come from renewable sources. Scotland is currently producing some 1.4% of total heat use from renewable sources with around 70% of this used in the industrial sector. Overall, heat use is distributed between the main sectors as follows: industrial 31%, domestic 51% and commercial & public 18%.

1.2 Current projects in planning or with consent are likely to see the total portion of heat generated from renewable sources grow to nearly 3% in the near future, with a strong possibility that this could rise to around 4.7% with other known projects in various stages of development. Over 90% of our current renewable heat is generated from woody biomass, with energy from waste a rapidly developing sector. The availability of woody biomass in Scotland for energy generation is limited and a full range of technologies will be required to meet the target.

1.3 An initial focus on the industrial, commercial and public sectors could give large gains in the short to medium term, but to achieve the 2020 target and continue growth thereafter will require a strong focus on the domestic sector, particularly existing properties, as illustrated in the chart below. This will require retrofitting of micro-renewables and the development of district heating. A more challenging option to be considered for the domestic market is the use of biogas within the existing gas network.

Figure 1: Indicative level of heat usage by market sector

Figure 1: Indicative level of heat usage by market sector

1.4 The introduction of a Renewable Heat Incentive ( RHI) at a UK level, planned for April 2011, is critical and should lead to the rapid growth in the sector, and this Plan should be seen in the wider context. However, there is a need to take forward a wide range of actions to complement the RHI. This Action Plan will focus on those areas where Scottish Ministers have devolved responsibility, such as:

  • Skills needs
  • Provision of consumer information
  • Building Scottish supply chain
  • Leading by example

1.5 The Plan focuses on action required in the next 2 years to accelerate progress towards the 11% target. No one sector, technology, geographical focus or action alone will deliver the level of renewable heat required. Any quick wins will need to be followed up with substantial changes in the provision of domestic heat. Continuity of policy, effort and support is essential to deliver the carbon savings required.

1.6 Finally, this Action Plan continues and builds on previous Scottish Government support to the renewables sector. In particular, grants totalling some £6.6 million were awarded under the Scottish Biomass Support Scheme (2007/08) to support the transformation of the woodfuel sector in Scotland. More recently, in December 08 a new scheme to support biomass heat only projects was launched worth £3.3 million.