Scottish Government – Heat in buildings strategy – achieving net zero emissions: consultation response

Published: 30 April 2021

Reducing emissions from Scottish homes and buildings is one of the most important things to do to help end Scotland’s contribution to climate change. Over the next 24 years  Scotland’s homes and workplaces will be transformed so they are warmer, greener and more efficient. This draft Strategy, which updates both the Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map and the Heat Policy Statement, sets out how Scotland will achieve that ambition.

Homes and workplaces account for around 21% of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Very significant progress must be made towards eliminating emissions from the way buildings are heated over the next decade and reduce them to zero by 2045. Transforming homes and workplaces will be immensely challenging, requiring action from all, right across society and the economy.

The feedback to the consultation will be considered by an incoming Scottish administration following the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021. In the meantime, the Scottish Government will continue to take steps to support delivery through our successful Energy Efficient Scotland delivery schemes and the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, and continue to work with colleagues in Parliament to secure the passage of the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill.

Key points

Energy Systems Catapult believes the heatheatproposed measures indicate a good direction of travel and we would urge Scottish Government to consider the following in its proposals:

Potential of new business models such as Heat as a Service

  • We are encouraged by Scottish Government’s appetite for new business model innovations including concepts such as Heat as a Service, which offers a new model for how businesses sell heating, and tailored heat offerings based on individual preference (e.g. – a conceptual ‘warm home’) opposed to buying kilowatt hours of fuel. Such an approach can fundamentally shift public attitudes towards energy and we believe that new business models and innovative service offerings can play a key role in making low and zero carbon choices attractive for consumers.
  • In our recommendations to Scottish Government on how to understand and apply the potential of HaaS, we suggest that the approach can also help those at risk of fuel poverty, targeting measures at those who struggle to pay or whose homes perhaps are expensive to heat
  • HaaS can encourage and enable consumers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and install low carbon heating; and help policymakers tackle fuel poverty.

Building skills and supply chain

  • We do not have the skills urgently needed to assess, install, and advise on the appropriate low regret technologies available at the moment and supply chain capacity far below the capacity to manufacture the 600,000 heat pumps targeted in the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan. Without further emphasis on addressing these barriers, there is a risk that the market for installing low carbon technologies will simply be led by a fragmented and underdeveloped supply chain. It is imperative that the skills agenda is taken in tandem with the overall Heat in Buildings strategy.

Promoting whole systems thinking

  • Whilst Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) explicitly focus on heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency, we suggest that the approach should be undertaken as part of wider local energy strategies and decarbonisation plans, including aspects such as transport and spatial planning, local energy resources and renewable generation areas. It is worth building on Scotland’s pioneering Climate Assembly to involve many more people in plans to decarbonise their areas.

Public Engagement

  • It is imperative to consider how to deliver the low carbon solutions that the public actually want. Public engagement remains one of the key barriers to net zero and Scottish Government is right to point out that we need a change in perspective to get the public on board. Individuals and organisations must see energy efficiency and low and zero emissions heating interventions as positive choices, and we encourage proposals which focus on enabling people to gain trusted advice.

Creating Favourable Market Conditions

  • Under current policies and market conditions there is both a lack of incentive for consumers and a lack of reward for suppliers for switching to low carbon heating technologies. Environmental and other policy levies cause gas to be favoured over electricity, and as underlined in the consultation, skews consumer choice towards fossil fuel-reliant technologies. We welcome moves to address the imbalance caused by consumer levies.