Combined Heat & Power

Demand Side Services

Energy Efficiency

Heat Networks

Scottish Heat Networks Bill published

3 March 2020

Helping Scotland move to affordable, low carbon heating.

Scotland will be the first country in the UK to legislate on the development of heat networks to help meet climate change targets and tackle fuel poverty.

The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill will introduce regulation and a licensing system for district and communal heating to accelerate use of the networks across Scotland.

District or communal networks deliver heat from a central source through insulated pipes to local homes and other buildings, and have the potential to reduce or remove emissions from heating buildings and homes right across Scotland.

Heat networks are generally more efficient than individual gas boilers and can also be run wholly from renewable sources, reducing the need for customers to procure and maintain their own boilers.

To mark the publication of the bill, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, visited a heat network under construction at the St James Centre in central Edinburgh.

Mr Wheelhouse said:

We are facing a global climate emergency and one of the major challenges is reducing and ultimately stopping the impact from heating our homes and buildings, which is where more than half the energy we consume as a society currently goes.

Heat networks have huge potential to reduce that impact by providing more efficient, environmentally-friendly solutions. The Scottish Government is determined to unlock the potential for that sector wherever possible and stimulate local jobs across Scotland in the process of delivering projects.

We have done much to support the sector in recent years – there are currently more than 830 networks operating in Scotland, including significant projects we have supported in locations such as Glenrothes - but the sector is currently lacking a coherent regulatory framework and the Heat Networks Bill therefore marks the beginning of a transformational change, as we seek to create a supportive market environment for the necessary expansion of heat networks.

The benefits of heat networks are not only environmental – they can save space, remove combustion risk within buildings, and have been shown to save householders and businesses up to 36% in fuel costs, with consequent benefits for tackling fuel poverty and reducing costs faced by businesses and public bodies.

Charlotte Owen, Policy Officer at the ADE said:

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) is delighted that Scottish Government has today introduced the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill to Scottish Parliament. This Bill will drive investment in heat networks, an infrastructure which is vital for reaching net zero, and will support industry to continue to deliver networks that provide excellent service to consumers.

To reach net zero, we need to see the governments of the UK directing investment towards low carbon opportunities – this Bill from Scottish Government is a great step in the right direction. In particular, the ADE welcomes the zoning approach which Scottish Government has taken through this Bill. Heat network zoning will create clear investment pipelines for heat network developers, and support local supply chain growth by identifying clear local opportunities. This Bill represents an opportunity for local authorities, communities and the heat networks sector to work in partnership with Scottish Government to deliver low carbon heating solutions that will serve generations to come.

The ADE will continue to support Scottish Government as the Bill passes through Parliament, and in the preparation of secondary legislation.

Sam Hockman, Divisional CEO of ENGIE’s UK business, who are developing the Edinburgh St James’ heat network project, said:

We welcome the introduction of a regulatory framework for heat networks in Scotland. We believe this regulation will act as a catalyst to stimulate growth within the sector ensuring consistency across the industry, ultimately increasing investment in the market. Importantly it will also ensure Scottish consumers get a fair deal and enhance the service levels they receive.

As a low-carbon, efficient way to heat homes and businesses, heat networks like the project we are developing here in Edinburgh, can play a key role in supporting both future heat demand and Scotland’s overall drive towards net zero emissions.


The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill is now available to view on the Scottish Parliament website.

More information on heat networks is available at District Heating Scotland.

Engie is a leading provider of energy services and has developed more than 180 heat networks across Europe and is an ADE member organisation.

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