The Scottish Government introduced the new Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill on 3 March, being the first part of the UK to regulate heat networks and taking steps toward licensing. As energy policy is in most aspects devolved to Scottish Government, the Bill will only affect Scotland.
Scotland has committed to net-zero emissions targets by 2045, and these targets are highly dependent on the decarbonisation of heat – which is a key reason to why the Bill has been put forward, and it is likely that the Bill in the future will go in tandem with decarbonisation incentives. The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 3 March 2020 and is expected to pass in early 2021. However, bearing in mind that Brexit and Covid-19 are likely to be taking up much Parliamentary time, there might be reason to expect delays.
The most significant part of the Bill covers the introduction of heat network licensing, meaning that suppliers of thermal energy through heat networks are required to hold a heat networks license. The license requirements can differ between operators in order to be flexible depending on operator size and abilities. There is no definitive time stamp on a license, but it can be revoked by the licensing authority. The licensing will work in combination with a requirement of heat network consent, which will ensure that not only the operators are suitable, but also local factors (e.g. fuel poverty) are considered.
Even though the Bill will not require local authorities to develop heat networks, they are required to evaluate and review if there are potential areas suitable as heat network zones. Within designated heat network zones exclusivity to one operator will be facilitated through specific heat network zone permits. As a first step, public sector buildings are encouraged to consider connection to heat networks after preparing building assessment reports, which also will simplify heat network zoning. Finally, increased powers of heat network license holders are given in order to facilitate and reduce costs for construction.
Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for “Sustainable Heating & Cooling by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge-sharing between British, French and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.
To find out how we can help you and your organisation, please contact our London-based “SHC” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.