New legislation which aims to cut emissions, end fuel poverty, and create green jobs through the deployment of heat networks has been passed unanimously by Scottish Parliament.
Introduced in March 2020, the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill aims to reduce fossil fuel heating systems and help achieve Scotland’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
The bill creates a new licencing system to drive standards across the sector, improving consumer confidence. It also creates new rights for heat network developers and operators to level up the playing field with other utilities, to make investment in the sector more attractive and encourage further growth.
It’s estimated heat networks will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 90,000 cars by 2050 and generate fuel savings of around £130 a year for every household that connects to a heat network.
Scotland is the first country in the UK to legislate the growth of heat networks, through which homes and businesses are heated from a central source rather than individual gas boilers. The Scottish Government is targeting the equivalent of 650,000 homes to be connected to heat networks by 2030, from the current number of 32,000.
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to helping ensure Scotland becomes net-zero by 2045 is unwavering. We understand the decarbonisation challenge we face in order to end our contribution to climate change, not least in decarbonising heating in our homes and buildings, which currently accounts for 30% of Scotland’s total energy consumption.
Heat networks have huge potential to reduce emissions in our homes and buildings by providing more efficient, environmentally friendly solutions. The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill – the first legislation of its kind in the UK – unlocks this potential and marks the beginning of what will be a period of transformational change in how we heat our homes and business premises.
As we continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we know that we urgently need to stimulate our economy. Heat networks fit the profile of the sort of project that can make a significant, near-term contribution to our green recovery while providing long-term employment in local communities. The development of this sector will, crucially, provide ongoing support to achieve our target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.”