Just Warmth: Developing Equitable and Sustainable District Heating Systems in Scotland

Keith Baker, Ron Mould

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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In February 2019 Common Weal set out our vision for the design and development of Scotland’s publicly-owned national energy company (NEC) and
a Scottish Energy Development Agency (SEDA), which would act as a strategic body to prioritise and direct the development of new energy generation
projects and associated infrastructure and fuel supply chain needs. In this paper we highlighted the particularly complex problem of how to better enable
to development of district heating systems (DHS) and heat networks, and how considerable benefits to this could be unlocked through the roles of these
organisations in Scotland’s energy future.

This new paper builds directly on this report, as well as our previous report on energy performance certificates, by reviewing the evidence for how sustainable, low / zero-carbon DHS projects have been developed elsewhere in the world, particularly in Denmark, and proposing a set of criteria for designing and delivering successful DHS projects in Scotland. The concerns raised in this report, and our proposals for addressing them, are entirely within the powers and responsibilities currently devolved to the Scottish Government. However, as recognised in our previous papers, we are of the view that there are clear and substantial benefits to be had from the full devolution of all energy powers to Scotland, and more still from becoming an independent country within the European Union.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight key barriers to the successful deployment of new DHS in Scotland, conduct an extensive review of evidence
on how they should be addressed, and to outline a set of criteria for use as part of strategic planning and procurement to leverage new DHS projects. These
criteria have been developed in consultation with other experts with specialist knowledge of developing and deploying DHS, and are intended to deliver new
DHS and heat networks that best meet the needs of Scotland’s agendas for climate change, energy, employment, regeneration, fuel poverty, and community
empowerment. Furthermore, the data needs for assessing these criteria can already be met from sources available to the Scottish Government. As always,
we would welcome further comments from other experts and stakeholders as to how these proposals can be refined and implemented.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCommon Weal
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2019


  • energy policy
  • heat energy
  • equity
  • sustainability


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