Planning and Architecture

Heat: Our biggest element of energy use

November 5, 2015 by 1 Comment | Category Heat

Heat is at the core of Scotland’s energy system. It is the biggest element of our energy use (over 55%), and the largest source of our emissions (47%). The Scottish Government is committed to largely decarbonising our energy system by 2050, at an affordable price to consumers through maintaining and developing secure supplies of energy. Our current ambition is to achieve 1.5 TWh of Scotland’s heat demand to be delivered by district or communal heating and to have 40,000 homes connected by 2020.

The Scottish Government Planning and Architecture Division has been working on a number of initiatives to support the delivery of low carbon heat and district heat networks through the planning system. In partnership with the Danish Energy Agency and supported by Heads of Planning Scotland the Scottish Government sponsored a small group of Scottish local authority planners to attend a study visit to Denmark.

The visit combined energy and spatial planning theory with practice and included visits to operational heat networks and major development sites within and around the Greater Copenhagen area. (

Between June and September 2015, the Heat Network Partnership, which includes representatives from the Scottish Government, has delivered a series of workshop modules to support the delivery of heat strategies at the local authority level. A number of workshops held in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness saw participation from 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. The workshops provided a positive forum for the sharing of best practice in delivering district heating and allowed authorities to network and share their experiences whilst discussing challenges with experts in the field. It is hoped that Scottish local authorities will use the support and the knowledge gained to develop heat strategies for their areas to support delivery.

Most recently an update has been carried out to the Scottish Government’s online planning advice note for “Planning and Heat”. This document provides more detailed advice to planning authorities on how to plan for district heat networks within their areas, to comply with the requirements of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3). It supersedes an earlier planning advice note produced in 2013. The updates to the document primarily reflect the policy changes brought in by publication of the Scottish Planning Policy, National Planning Framework 3 and the Heat Policy Statement. It also reflects the launch of the Scottish Heat Map and provides other up to date information on the topic.”

Michael Westwater

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  • Dave Pearson says:

    load is the foundation of a thermal network.

    So what is the planning community doing to bring load (heating or cooling)?

    What could it do?

    Concession areas and maximum tariffs? (They do this in Drammen: buildings must connect – but can choose not to buy – but the tarrif must be cheaper than status quo).

    Mandatory network ready for all new builds and renovations.

    Strict guidelines on flow and return temperatures for said buildings to allow best possible low carbon. Eg 80C or lower not 95C

    Favourable planning for clean sources of heat in communities eg data centres.

    Recognition of future impact of cooling.

    All simple easy stuff within the gift of planners.