Heat networks - thermal energy target 2035: consultation

We are seeking views on a proposed target relating to the combined supply of thermal energy through heat networks in Scotland in 2035. 

Introduction – Purpose of this consultation paper

1. Scottish Ministers must in terms of Section 92 of the Heat Networks (Scotland) Act 2021 ("the 2021 Act"), by 1 October 2023, lay a draft of a Scottish statutory instrument containing regulations specifying a 2035 target relating to the combined supply of thermal energy by heat networks in Scotland

2. As set out in the Heat Networks Delivery Plan[1], we committed to consulting on a proposed 2035 target in early 2023, which would be informed by the First National Assessment (FNA) of Potential Heat Network Zones[2] and work carried out to develop Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES). We have brought forward the date of this consultation to ensure appropriate time is provided for stakeholders to be engaged and for Scottish Parliament to scrutinise the target.

3. In the Draft Heat Networks Delivery Plan,[3] we asked for views on what should be considered in setting the future heat network supply targets. Respondents indicated that meeting the existing targets should be the focus or our work, while others believed that more time should be taken to decide a sensible 2035 target.[4] Responses to the consultation also included:

  • that progress toward the 2027 target (in 2023) would be a useful benchmark, as would progress on energy efficiency;
  • reference to LHEES as a good-basis for determining the 2035 target; and
  • indication that a better understanding of the potential of waste heat sources was needed.

Much of this information is not currently of sufficiently robust quality or is not yet available.

4. Delaying the setting of a target would not meet the legal requirement of Scottish Ministers under the 2021 Act.

5. Given these views, we will review the 2035 target and, if appropriate, other heat network targets once more evidence is available such as LHEES and depending on what heat network zones are designated by local authorities. If appropriate, Ministers may modify these targets. This would allow us, in due course, to reflect progress with LHEES and heat network regulations work streams such as on building assessment reports (BARs) and zoning. The regulations work streams will be subject to separate consultations and publicised where appropriate on Citizen Space[5]. The BAR and Zoning consultation will be a limited 6-week consultation, targeted at specific sector stakeholders rather than the wider public, and will run from 16 January 2023 to 27 February 2023.

6. Through this consultation, the Scottish Government is seeking views on the proposed target relating to the combined supply of thermal energy through heat networks in Scotland in 2035.

7. The consultation is focused on this one topic, and covers Scotland only.

8. We are also taking the opportunity to ask an open question about any other issues relating to heat networks, to inform any future target considerations.


Email: heatnetworks@gov.scot

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