Delivering decarbonised energy for heat
The electricity networks already accommodate renewable and low carbon power and have the potential to do the same for heat. However, meeting this demand will probably need substantial upgrades to the networks. Getting this right, and securing the benefits as a result, will be hugely important. Stakeholders felt that insufficient network capacity represents a real challenge, alongside the comparatively cheap price of gas which has the potential to hinder the shift to low carbon heat sources. Re-engineering the gas and electricity networks to decarbonise the energy that flows through them requires the coordination and integration of new technologies, such as the use of hydrogen or biofuels for heating.
Attendees considered options to repurpose the gas networks, for example by blending low carbon gases with natural gas, or by fully replacing natural gas with gases such as biomethane or low carbon hydrogen. Biogas was seen as having the potential to deliver benefits beyond simply lowering emissions, such as creating new employment opportunities and revenue streams for farmers and landowners. Hydrogen could also play a transformational role in the future as a zero carbon alternative to heat, with the Scottish Government potentially funding trials to test its viability as an energy source.