MSPs warned that de-carbonising Scotland’s heating sector will be ‘costly, complex and controversial’ / Join the Scottish solar rooftop campaign

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De-carbonising the heating industry in Scotland will be costly, complex, controversial and will involve nation-wide retro-fitting of renewable energy heat systems in more than one million homes.

That was one of the stark messages delivered to MSPs on the cross-party Scottish parliament group on renewable power yesterday.

Prof. Janette Webb of Edinburgh University’s social sciences school, was speaking on the ‘big picture’ transition to low-carbon heating.

Other key speakers included Andrew Bissell, Chief Executive of East Lothian-based Sunamp, and Angus McIntosh from Scotia Gas Networks.

Notwithstanding the Scottish Energy Strategy – sneaked out on the last day of parliamentary term last year by the Scottish Energy Minister – more than half (53%) of Scottish greenhouse gas emissions

Webb added: “The 2050 target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of the 1990 level, with all buildings at near zero-carbon emission level. But so far there has been little  progress on low carbon heat-emission reduction.”

Citing the CCC advice to the Scot-Govt on its Climate Change Bill, Webb added: “The low-carbon buildings targets lack credibility and immediate action is required.

“We need new-build energy efficiency and new-build and low-carbon heating – now.

“We need heat pumps in off-gas properties, with a supplementary role for biomass boilers.

“We need low-carbon heat networks and we need to retro-fit energy-efficiency and improvements in existing buildings with low-carbon heat solution needed for on-gas properties not on heat networks.

“SEEP and LHEES <Scot-Govt low-carbon heating transition programmes> have to work and the transition to low-carbon heat requires urgent action now.

“We need zero carbon new buildings and – sadly lacking – we also need unified enforcement and quality management/performance guarantees.”

The Sunamp 'heat trilemma'
The Sunamp ‘heat trilemma’

Sunamp chief executive Andrew Bissell explained how his company is tackling fuel poverty with its ‘heat battery’ and his company’s partnership with the EastHeat housing co-operative in East Lothian.

He said: “Our heat battery disrupts – and replaces – the traditional domestic hot water cylinder market with a better, smaller, more efficient heat store that fits beautifully into small, modern living and working places.

“It also provides much more <energy> storage in homes that (because of the trend to combi boilers) are becoming “storage poor” and it supports the national transition towards renewable energy.

“The heat battery helps to solve the ‘heat trilemma – unlocking renewable energy like solar PV and heat pumps to be genuinely useful to the individual household

“More than 1,000 tenants have enjoyed  10%-60% utility bill savings via retrofit installation of heat batteries in around 600 homes in the UK’s largest domestic energy storage project

“Sunamp heat batteries are manufactured nearby at our East Lothian factory and we have strong working relations with housing associations all over Scotland.

“Adding rooftop solar PV panels alone gives around £100 bill saving to the household electricity bill. But adding a heat battery doubles this to some £200 (by avoiding £100/year of bought-in electricity for hot water).”

During question time, one renewables delegate suggested that the Scot-Govt should ‘act like wartime prime minister Winston Churchill’ by issuing an ‘action this day’ directive to require that solar PV rooftop panels are built into every new-build home in Scotland.

She added: “Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse should step into Churchill’s shoes. All it takes is one directive on one side of an A4 sheet of paper to – literally – build solar rooftop panels by making this a requirement of new-build building regulations’.

A spokesman for Scottish Gas Networks spoke about the pros and cons of using hydrogen to de-carbonise the heating industry in Scotland.


However, due to lack of space and facilities in the Scottish Parliament – which refuses to ‘grant’ a ‘standard’ media pass to Scottish Energy News – our correspondent was unable to see, or hear, enough of his presentation to include details of the SGN policy in this report.


12 Jan 2018

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