Energy Efficient Scotland: the future of low carbon heat for off gas buildings - call for evidence

We are seeking evidence on technologies and actions necessary to support the decarbonisation of the heat supply of buildings that currently do not use mains gas as their primary heating fuel.

Executive Summary

With this call for evidence, the Scottish Government seeks evidence on the technologies and the actions necessary to support the decarbonisation of the heat supply of buildings that currently do not use mains gas as their primary heating fuel.

The call for evidence is divided in three parts. The first part considers the existing market for low carbon heat, including barriers to uptake. The second explores the various technologies that may have a role to play. The third part seeks views on the role of government in supporting the decarbonisation of the heat supply.

The responses we receive, alongside other evidence, will inform our ongoing work to strengthen Scotland's low carbon heat policy framework.

Scotland's transition to a more prosperous, low carbon economy is already well underway. Decarbonising the way we heat our buildings is a fundamental part of this transition and important if we are to achieve our climate change targets and ambition for all Scotland's buildings to be near zero carbon by 2050. The Climate Change Plan outlines an ambitious trajectory to supply 35% of domestic heat and 70% of heat used by non-domestic properties, from low carbon sources by 2032. Scotland's Energy Strategy also sets an ambitious target for the equivalent of 50% of Scotland's heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

Currently, natural gas, supplied via the mains gas network, is used to supply the majority of heat in Scotland and this is similar to other European energy systems, such as the Netherlands and Italy. Electricity and heating oil also account for significant shares and in recent years renewable sources have met an increasing proportion of heat demand.

Over the next few years we will support energy efficiency/ demand reduction in buildings; and promote the uptake of low carbon heat solutions in off gas buildings, as well as the development of heat networks in urban areas having learned from good practice in other jurisdictions across Europe.

Current Market for Low Carbon Heat

The market for renewable and low carbon heat has grown in recent years, through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), among other factors. UK Government data shows that Scotland has received greater than its pro-rata share of installations under the RHI, with 20% of domestic and 19% of non-domestic projects located in Scotland[2].

However, whilst a growing share of Scotland's heat is met from low carbon and renewable sources there remains a number of barriers to uptake, which will need to be overcome if deployment is to be scaled up to achieve Scotland's climate change targets.

Your answers to the questions, will help us identify which specific actions we can undertake to remove such obstacles in order to accelerate the uptake of low carbon and renewable sources of heat. We specifically ask you to reflect on building-specific restrictions, namely:

  • poor building energy efficiency;
  • building density;
  • conservation areas and listed buildings; and
  • high heat demand or need for high temperature heat.

We believe these different characteristics underline the need for future policy frameworks to be flexible enough to develop bespoke solutions to decarbonising heat supply in Scotland.

Low Carbon Heat Technologies

There are a wide range of technologies which could be deployed as replacements for existing high carbon heating systems, depending on the property's characteristics, its location and the features of the available technologies. This section of the Call for Evidence outlines the key low carbon heat technologies available, the scope for innovation and the potential constraints on the deployment of low carbon heat. We invite you to provide evidence on practical aspects of their large scale uptake, such as the current and prospective installation and operational costs. We are also interested in innovative new technologies that may have a role to play in the sector.

This section also lists the main low carbon heat technologies, although it does not constitute a fully comprehensive list:

  • Electric Heating Solutions, such as:
    • Electric Heat Pumps
    • Hybrid Heat Pumps
    • Storage Heaters
    • Other electric heating sources and storage
  • Biomass and bio-liquid solutions
  • Heat Networks

Enabling Uptake of Low Carbon Heat

With this section of the Call for Evidence, we seek to understand the elements that will be needed to create a future framework to support the uptake of low carbon heat in buildings not currently using mains gas, in particular the role of:

  • Phasing and leadership
  • Strategy in guiding investment and delivery
  • Finance and incentives in supporting uptake
  • Advice and information in enabling consumers to make informed choices
  • Regulation in giving market certainty

We are also seeking your views on how we can support the growth of the supply chain to ensure local economies benefit from the new opportunities.

Next Steps

The call for evidence will run for 12 weeks. Responses received will be analysed and the resulting evidence will be used to inform further work to strengthen our policy framework for low carbon heat.



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