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Erling Binns considers Scotland’s approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and tackling fuel poverty

In October 2021, Scotland launched its Heat in Buildings Strategy. The country has already set itself a mission of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 (five years earlier than the rest of the UK) and decarbonising the built environment is a crucial part of hitting that goal.

The Scottish government’s vision is that: “By 2045, our homes and buildings are cleaner, greener and easy to heat.” 

There are interim targets on the way to net zero in 2045: a 75% reduction by 2030; and 90% by 2040.

In addition, Scotland also aims to cut fuel poverty to less than 5% of households.

These new heat pumps can also reduce problems such as building overheating

Erling Binns Erling Binns Business Development Manager

Increased funding

The Strategy is accompanied by funding of at least £1.8 billion to provide increased funding for home energy programmes and energy efficiency projects in social housing.

As with the wider UK policy on decarbonised heat, the Scottish government has identified some important ‘no- and low-regret’ low carbon heating technologies: electric heat pumps; hydrogen and heat networks where suitable.

As the Strategy document states: “They are the technological solutions where cost uncertainty is low”.

Scotland’s Heat Strategy recognises that energy efficiency and low-carbon heating must go hand-in-hand.

So, we are going to see investment in improving the fabric of existing homes as a first step in this programme.

Affordable net zero

The principle is that net zero heating should be affordable for householders in the long-term and that the running costs of new heating technologies must be considered.

The Heat Networks (Scotland) Act has already pushed forward use of this technology and aims to encourage investment by the private sector.

The government aims to boost heat networks by requiring non-domestic ‘anchor’ buildings to make adaptations to become ‘heat network ready’. The non-domestic rates system will be used to incentivise building owners to join heat networks in the future.

Ideal for mixed-use

At Mitsubishi Electric, we have been investing for some time in the development of heat network technologies for homes and commercial buildings. For example, our latest Ecodan QAHV heat pump can produce hot water up to 90oC, and makes use of CO2 as a refrigerant, lowering the system’s embodied carbon. 

We have also recently launched the Ecodan Hydrodan water-to-water heat pump which is designed specifically for modern ‘fifth generation’ ambient heat networks.

The ambient, or low-temperature, heat network is ideal for mixed-use buildings and developments, where heat extracted from office cooling systems, for instance, can be used to provide hot water for apartments or houses on the same heat network.

It’s an excellent solution that also reduces problems such as building overheating since the loop itself operates at temperatures of between 10oC and 30oC.

The decabonising challenge

Decarbonising heating is a large-scale challenge. In Scotland, there are 170,000 homes not on the gas grid that use high-emission fossil fuels for heating.

There are also 1 million homes using mains gas which need to be converted to zero emission heating.

In addition, the equivalent of 50,000 non-domestic properties will also have to be converted.

However, as the Scottish government has already highlighted in the Strategy, the technologies to achieve this goal are already available – and have been widely used. 

With government support, designers can move away from the ‘business-as-usual’ approach to heating in homes and commercial buildings to take a bold step towards net zero carbon.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we share this vision and are ready to help developers, designers and installers make the change.

Erling Binns, Business Development Manager