A partnership of government and network companies has launched an “industry-first trial” to accelerate the decarbonisation of heating.
SP Energy Networks, part of Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, a subsidiary of SSE, and the Scottish Government have teamed up for project ‘re-heat’.
The £5 million study will explore how networks can efficiently and cost-effectively manage the expected increase in electricity demand created by moving to electric heating solutions.
By 2030 Scotland is expected see over a million homes converting their heating from fossil fuels to zero emissions systems, such as heat pumps.
And electricity networks are beginning to plan already for the inevitable and significant increase in demand.
Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SP Energy Networks, which is leading the project, said: “Achieving Net Zero emissions by 2045 will only be possible if we begin to work on real solutions to support the decarbonisation of heat now.
“Our electricity networks are at the heart of the transition to a low carbon Scotland, but we need to ensure they are able to cope with the significant increase in demand we’re projecting as more and more low carbon heating solutions are connected into our network.
“This flagship project has the potential to be replicated across the country if it’s successful and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government, SSEN, local authorities and our industry partners to support this massive step-change in a way that will enable all our communities to work towards a Net Zero future.”
Scotland’s ambition to zero out emissions by 2045 relies heavily on the electricity network decarbonizing heat and transport.
To provide a picture of how best emissions can slashed from heating, re-heat is being trialed in three areas.
SP Energy Networks will test out the study in East Ayrshire and East Dunbartonshire, while SSEN will pilot in in the Highlands.
A total of 150 heat pumps, manufactured by Daikin, will be installed in domestic homes across the three local authority areas.
These will be connected to thermal storage units, developed by Sunamp, enabling customers to be flexible around their energy demand for heating.
As part of the project, Bridge-of-Weir based SME, Derryherk, is also providing data analytical and geographical information system (GIS) services.
Head of future networks at SSEN Stewart Reid said: “We have 7,500 heat pumps already installed on our network across the north of Scotland and anticipate this will increase to half a million by the middle of this century. Project Re-Heat will be vital to build our understanding of how we manage this cost effectively and ensure our network is ready.
“We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government and SP Energy Networks. Through this project, we look forward to tackling the challenges and identifying how to provide the critical infrastructure needed to support net zero.”
The Scottish Government, SP Energy Networks and SSEN are all part of a heat electrification strategic partnership, aimed at accelerating the decarbonisation of heating in Scotland.
Zero carbon buildings minister Patrick Harvie said: “Meeting our ambitious climate targets will require rapid reduction in carbon emissions across our homes and buildings.
“I am pleased the Scottish Government could support this innovative project, which demonstrates how we can cut carbon emissions faster by installing intelligent systems that use our growing energy resource efficiently.
“It also highlights that, working together with public and private sector partners, we can ensure our homes and buildings are climate-friendly and bring benefits to communities and local economies across the country.”