One of the biggest challenges Scotland faces in tackling climate
change is decarbonising our homes and buildings. To meet our target of 75% emissions reductions by 2030, over 1 million homes and the equivalent of 50,000 non-domestic buildings need to be converted to use zero emission heating systems. Our Heat in Buildings Strategy, published last year, identified heat networks as a key strategic technology for meeting this goal.
The Heat Networks (Scotland) Act 2021 sets ambitious targets for the amount of heat to be supplied by heat networks – 2.6 Terawatt hours (TWh) of output by 2027 and 6 TWh of output by 2030 – 3% and 8% respectively of current heat supply. To meet these targets, we need to significantly increase our use of heat networks across Scotland, and build a heat networks sector which delivers clean and affordable heat, develops local supply chains, and contributes to a resilient energy system.
Last year we published a draft version of this plan, seeking feedback on several aspects of our policy programme and regulatory framework. I was pleased with the level of engagement in this consultation, with stakeholders from across the sector sharing their experiences and providing valuable insights.
This Heat Networks Delivery Plan incorporates that feedback and outlines the steps that the Scottish Government will take to accelerate the development of heat networks across Scotland, contributing to our climate change and fuel poverty targets.
Over the course of this Parliamentary Session we are allocating £300 million to a new Heat Network Fund to enable and support the development of new, and expansion of existing, heat networks in Scotland. We will also launch a new Heat Networks Support Unit to work with both public and private sector organisations to design and bring forward heat network projects ready for capital investment.
We will work with local government to put in place Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies which identify areas particularly suitable for heat networks, and to designate heat network zones for development.
To underpin and help further unlock the growth of heat networks in Scotland we will implement the Heat Networks (Scotland) Act 2021 putting in place a functioning regulatory regime by early 2024. We will continue to work with the UK Government as we implement the Heat Networks (Scotland) Act in order to ensure alignment and interoperability between the Scottish and UK regulatory systems.
The Heat Networks Delivery Plan sets out the actions we are taking, but we do not have all the powers necessary to drive the growth of heat networks whilst protecting customers. The UK Government must urgently bring forward its proposed market framework for heat networks in order to put in place the much needed consumer protection in the sector. Recent volatility in global natural gas markets further underscores the urgency of UK Government action in this reserved policy area where heat network customers are currently lacking protection.
Growing the heat networks sector in Scotland will be challenging: they are big infrastructure and take time to develop. But heat networks are, and will be, an important and integral part of the solution to cutting emissions from heating our homes and buildings. We must all rise to the challenge.
Patrick Harvie MSP
Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights
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