Legislation which will help cut emissions, reduce fuel poverty and create green jobs by accelerating the deployment of heat networks has been passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP Government is the first in the UK to legislate to support the growth of heat networks, through which clusters of homes and businesses get heating from a central source rather than individual fossil fuel boilers - making it safer for customers and more efficient.
The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill creates a new licensing system to drive up 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 in order to make investment in the sector more attractive and encourage further growth.
A new consent system will also be introduced to make sure that new networks are developed in areas where they will have most benefit and are tailored to its needs.
It is estimated that heat networks will 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. New analysis, due to be published in the Spring, is anticipated to indicate even greater environmental benefits.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP said:
“The SNP 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. “Our targets are undoubtedly ambitious – targeting the equivalent of 650,000 homes to be connected to heat networks by 2030, from the current number of 32,000, will require a very significant expansion of the supply chain – but I am confident our Heat Networks Bill lays strong foundations for this ambition to be met.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a profound effect, we know that we urgently need to stimulate our economy but it must be in a green way – hence Scotland’s Green Recovery Plan.
“The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill was always on the SNP Government’s agenda but its urgency has been driven home.
“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 and the development of this sector will, crucially, provide ongoing support to achieve our target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.”
The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill as passed can be found here.