Sustainability expert urges Scottish Government to act on Heat in Buildings Bill as 2030 climate target scrapped

The Scottish Government’s recent announcement that the 2030 climate target will be scrapped is a blow to the country’s efforts towards a greener future. Prof. Dave Pearson, Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, is joining other experts in calling for urgent action on the Heat in Buildings Bill – so that it does not meet the same fate.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary for Energy and Net Zero, Mairi McAllan, Prof. Pearson and 24 other signatories – representing various parts of the supply chain – underlined the Bill’s central role in combating climate change and improving energy efficiency in homes.

“If Scotland’s reputation as a world leader on climate change is not to be diminished, it is now more important than ever that we see rapid progress on this Bill and supporting measures, not only to demonstrate that the country’s net zero ambitions are more than just words, but also to give certainty to the business that will be central to making the transition happen”, the letter reads.

Clear policies, mandatory standards, and support for compliance are all vital to facilitate investment and growth in clean heating technologies. Experts are in agreement that there can be no more delays in introducing clear, ambitious legislation along with clear guidelines and timetables.

Prof. Pearson says, “It is clear that the major problem in decarbonisation lies in the existing building stock, of which much is multi-owner in Scottish Cities. The only plausible way to decarbonise the classical tenement flat is with district heating – and this is exactly what is happening at Queens Quay, with additional new clean heat connections being provided to existing tenement properties at West Dunbartonshire’s network by Vital Energi.

“The reason this advancement is so special is that the heat comes from the Star Refrigeration manufactured  River Source district heat pump, which utilises low carbon electricity to harvest heat from the Clyde estuary, delivering three times the effect as would occur from direct electric use.”

The Scottish Government needs to introduce the Heat in Buildings Bill to Parliament promptly and complete the parliamentary process by the end of 2025 – paving the way not only for a more efficient and environment-friendly method to heat Scottish homes, but also to new opportunities for investment and growth in the energy sector. The letter also called for the UK Government to advance electricity price reform, making clean heat the more cost-effective solution.

Prof. Pearson adds, “Whilst everyone is very proud of the numerous water source heat pumps we have supplied, the key question that must be answered is: When will the abundance of clean electricity being curtailed at Scottish wind farms be channelled to beneficial use by adjusting the price?”

“This last point can easily be deflected to Westminster as a reserved matter, but the Scottish Government could underpin a series of power connections from wind farms (existing and planned) to the ideal locations for river source heat pumps. By doing so they would slash the bloated grid electricity costs and pave the way for clean, sustainable technology to be used instead of burning gas.

“This would facilitate heat pumps uptake across the country and create a tsunami of private investment, creating jobs and tax revenue – all at no cost to the Government. To see electricity that has been generated cleanly in Scotland and sold to the grid for around 7.5p/kWh, end up costing over 30p/kWh, even just a few miles down the road,  is a stark reminder of how inappropriate the current arrangements are. This isn’t just a tweak that is needed as proposed by the REMA work but a transformational change.

“A credible solution would be that the Scottish Government facilitate a parallel local grid for key consumption activity. A simple underwriting to the private sector would achieve the market confidence that would see a private wire provision, thus unlocking the investment model for clean district heating. Heat offtake legislation without this will fail to see clean heat delivered. Not only will our hope of meeting Net Zero targets fade, but also the employment opportunities that underpin a Just Transition will simply not arise.”

More information about Star Renewable Energy and parent company Star Refrigeration can be found here:

Sustainability expert urges Scottish Government to act on Heat in Buildings Bill as 2030 climate target scrapped

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