Future of low carbon heat for off gas buildings - call for evidence: analysis of responses

A report to analyse responses to the call for evidence on the future of low carbon heat for off gas buildings.

Enabling the uptake of low carbon heat

The call for evidence paper sought views on the elements required to create a future Scottish framework to support uptake of low carbon heating in off-gas buildings. This included a particular focus on the potential role of the following: 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; and regulation in giving market certainty.

Questions 41 to 45 sought views on each of these elements in turn, while Questions 46 to 48 sought views on the role of advice, assessment and information.

Readers should note that respondents’ focus on specific elements of support for uptake of low carbon heat appeared to reflect their experience and expertise. For example, those active in a particular energy sector were generally more likely to refer to uptake of associated technologies. As such, views expressed cannot necessarily be read as representative of the full range of opinion. References are provided for specific claims where possible, and we note where evidence was not provided. Statements of opinion provided without evidence may not have been included.

Planning and leadership delivery

A total of 37 respondents (69%) addressed Question 41.

Support for a phased approach was evident across respondent groups, with recommendations for interim targets alongside longer term strategic aims. This included reference to successful use of phased approaches to policy change such as the switch to condensing boilers, the end date of 2040 for sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and an end date for use of coal in power plants.

A phased approach was seen as beneficial in providing a clear strategic direction and confidence for industry and consumers, allowing stakeholders to plan investment and avoiding a concentration of activity near the target date. Some suggested that the current absence of specific timing for phasing out high carbon heating had limited industry planning and investment. It was also suggested that a phased approach avoids requirement for consumers to prematurely replace current heating systems.

In terms of the specific phasing of the policy framework some respondents recommended an approach that mirrors that for energy efficiency proposals, for example short-term and long-term targets supported by interim targets to encourage progress. Some also suggested it will be importance for the policy timetable to take account of ongoing engagement with stakeholders.

Some wished to see more rapid phasing. This included suggestions that Scottish Government should recognise the range of low carbon technologies currently available, and progress made in decarbonising heat over recent years. Respondents saw a need to balance policy targets with allowing time for research and development, and industry investment. However, it was also suggested that industry has proven itself able to respond to relatively rapid changes in policy and regulation.

Respondents made a range of specific suggestions for elements of a phased policy and regulatory framework. These are summarised below.

  • A firm date on phasing out of high carbon fuels, in terms of new installations and subsequent retrofit. It was suggested that the end date would need to allow for the lifecycle of high carbon systems installed up to that point, such that these would be replaced in line with the net zero target. Specific suggestions for an end date for new installations ranged from the early 2020s with the latest being 2035. Some cited evidence on the carbon impact of delaying phase out. However, some did not wish to see a firm date for switching.
  • The following areas and sectors where more rapid progress could be made were suggested:
    • An initial focus on new build development in off-gas areas including delivery on the Future Homes Standard for off-gas areas.
    • Use of zoning to bring forward targets in some areas.
    • Transition of fuel poor households to low carbon heating first.
    • Prioritising new build public sector commercial scale buildings, including an immediate requirement for use of low carbon heat in all new developments and a firm date for retrofit of all buildings.
    • An immediate requirement or short-term target for boiler replacement to use low carbon technologies.
  • A clear statement on the role of bioliquids.
  • Allowing time for new technologies to continue to develop.

A broad range of respondents also suggested that continued financial support would be required alongside a phased policy framework. This included recommendations for targeted support for the fuel poor and those unable to pay, early adopters, research to prove new technologies, and extending financial support to include emerging technologies.


Email: lowcarbonfuture@gov.scot

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