New legislation to accelerate the deployment of heat networks that will help reduce emissions and fuel poverty and create green jobs has been unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill creates a new licensing system to drive up standards across the sector, improving consumer confidence and also creates new rights for heat network developers and operates to level up the playing field with other utilities to make investment in the sector more attractive and encourage further growth.
In addition, a new consent system will be introduced to make sure new heat networks are developed in areas where they will have the most benefit and are tailored to their needs.
Scotland is the first country in the UK to legislate the growth of heat networks, through which clusters of homes and businesses get heating from a central source rather than individual fossil fuel boilers.
Heat networks are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 90,000 cars by 2050 and generate annual fuel savings of around £130 for every household that connects to a heat network.
Absolutely delighted with unanimous support for Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill today which has been the culmination of extensive work by my Bill team, MSPs, industry, consumer & environmental stakeholders, @scotparl staff & individuals. It hopefully triggers an exciting era ahead. https://t.co/VeJQS8KtiA
— Paul Wheelhouse 🏴🇪🇺 (@PaulWheelhouse) February 23, 2021
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.
Scotland’s 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.”