Scottish Government sets out the road ahead for Heat Networks

Charlie Drysdale, Project Development Manager SSE Enterprise Heat and Distributed Energy, shares his views on the new Heat Networks Bill being proposed by the Scottish Government.

 

It was hugely encouraging to see the steps the Scottish Government will take to do something about the ‘climate emergency’ we all face in its new programme for government. It sets out the practical next steps on Scotland’s journey to net zero.

Of particular interest was the news that the Scottish Government wants to put a Heat Networks Bill through Parliament in the coming year. The idea is: ‘to introduce regulation of the heat network sector to support, facility and create controls in respect of the development of district and communal hearing infrastructure in Scotland. Accelerating the deployment of heat networks will help Scotland to decarbonise its heat supply and will contribute to our climate change targets.

This is great news for anyone in the heat networks sector; and confirms these pioneering regulations will be implemented in the next 12 months. The question now is what will be included in the final bill to ensure the sustainable growth of this ‘low-regret’ infrastructure, which will play a fundamental role in Scotland’s net zero transition.

Customers come first

It’s vital that customers on heat networks are protected and provided with an equivalent quality of service to other utilities, however it is equally important that any regulations encourage and facilitate the development of heat networks in the right places on a level playing field with other utilities. The Heat Networks Bill needs to strike the right balance here if it is to enable this sector to contribute effectively towards carbon reduction in Scotland.

It is clear that district and communal heating is not the right solution for every property and business across Scotland. What can’t be disputed though, is that the heating of buildings by pre-heated water through a network of insulated pipes allows for a technology agnostic energy centre to be the source of this heat (whether waste or generated).

In a world where technology, targets and standards are all evolving at pace, a heat network allows for heat distribution to evolve alongside this. That is one of the reasons why cities across Europe have been effectively deploying this technology for decades such as Copenhagen, where around 97% of buildings are connected to a heat network.

Myth busting

We are also hugely supportive of the Scottish Government’s new blog designed to dispel any myths about district heating and to help promote its ability to deliver a cost effective and environmentally friendly solution.

If we are to make a success of heat networks we first need the benefits to be fully understood by the people of Scotland, but of equal importance is that the Heat Networks Bill accelerates the deployment of this technology to allow its effective contribution towards our journey to net zero emissions. The journey starts here.

 

If you’d like to speak to Charlie on this subject then you can reach him via email at charlie.drysdale@sse.com

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