The Scottish Government is committed to installing one million zero carbon heating systems by the end of the decade and as a pathway to that goal, doubling the number of such systems installed every year for the next five years. A very large proportion of these systems are expected to be heat pumps. As this report makes clear, these are very challenging targets and to achieve them will require all the levers that are available to be pulled hard in the same direction.
However, as the Scottish Government controls many of these levers, it can make this alignment happen. One immediate thing it can do is use its powers of regulation and planning to drive installation of zero carbon heating in both old and new buildings, including creating a definitive 'market moment' by announcing an end date for fossil fuel heating installation. A further action which can be taken rapidly is to directly incorporate the ambitious targets in its own programmes. This will not in all cases require additional funds, the government can redirect some of the funds it already spends or controls in many cases, for example in mandating zero carbon heating in new public buildings and through the affordable housing programme.
These actions will provide volume and, crucially, certainty to the Scottish heat pump market and so drive its growth. However, with growth the constraints of the downstream supply chain installing heat pumps will become crucial and there will be a need for further measures to develop the supply chain, which is unlikely to grow quickly enough without such support.
If these things are done, accompanied by other interventions to support targeted innovation, maintain high standards of work in a rapidly growing industry and ensure electricity grid access then the building blocks will be in place to reach the required numbers of heat pumps. However, there is a crucial further step, to engage consumers so that they understand and buy into the transition to heat pumps as without consumer engagement and support the transition cannot occur.
Overall, the key conclusion of the EAG is that the Scottish Government's targets are achievable. Significant effort and resources will be required but most actions proposed are a ramping up or extension of existing activity, albeit at considerable pace and scale and so there is much to build on. If the Scottish Government follows the recommendations set out in this report, we are confident that their ambitious goals for heat pump deployment can be met.
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