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Low carbon heat foresighting: discussion paper


The research aimed to identify the key technologies and drivers which will enable the heating (and cooling) sector to transition to meet emission reduction targets of 80% by 2050. The analysis will allow Scottish Enterprise (SE) and other stakeholders to develop an overall strategic approach, and provide evidence for companies to encourage investment and supply chain development of low carbon heat technologies.


The research involved a review of relevant reports. Three heat scenario studies and their implications for the Scottish heat sector were explored in detail by the SE Foresighting team: DECC’s heat pathways to 2050; Scottish Government’s Heat Generation Policy Statement; and the Energy Network Association’s gas future scenarios project.


The three scenario studies indicate that measures currently in place are expected to reduce emissions arising from the heat sector by roughly 50% by 2050. In order to meet the 2050 emissions reduction target of 80%, several main themes emerged: a substantial reduction in the role of natural gas for heat; towards 2050, any end-use of natural gas is increasingly expected to utilise Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – only feasible for large consumers and heat networks; increasing electrification of the heat sector powered by low carbon electricity; increasing uptake of hybrid boilers; an increase in District Heat Networks (DHN); the potential for biomass (wood products) to play a substantial role in meeting heat targets; renewable biomethane from feedstocks traditionally considered waste could provide around 20-25% of Scotland’s 2030 gas demand, via the existing gas-grid. Less certain in any of the scenarios is the role synthetic gas (hydrogen and methanation) could play in the heat sector.


Makes the following recommendations: SE should look to support activity in the biomethane sector in Scotland; SE should consider supporting a pilot scheme to evaluate performance of aggregated hybrid boilers in tandem with smart metering and support the supply chain for widespread uptake of hybrid gas boilers if successful; there could be a large-scale heat pump demonstrator project in Scotland; large-scale heat energy storage demonstrator project(s) could be considered; a large-scale solar farm in tandem with a large-scale heat storage system, would demonstrate seasonal renewable heating from summer to autumn for the first time in Scotland; and projects utilising co-product waste heat and projects developing geothermal resources offer long-term cost reduction opportunities for district heating networks, and could help to stimulate the uptake of low carbon heat technologies.

Author Scottish Enterprise
Published Year 2015
Report Type Research
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors