Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is consulting on its Heat Strategy, outlining four principles that will support a secure, cost-effective and fair transition.
These principles are; actively engaging with stakeholders, learning from projects, data and stakeholders, investing and innovation to deliver net zero, and empowering communities.
SSEN highlighted how there are currently just under 8,000 and 9,000 heat pumps in its north of Scotland and central southern England distribution areas, with this predicted to rise to over 500,000 and 1.9 million respectively by 2050. This change will require “significant collaboration and coordination across policymakers and industry”, the distribution network operator said.
It also referenced the current challenges to decarbonising heat, including understanding the financial barriers to energy efficiency uptake, making connections accessible, and ensuring tenants and individuals who do not own the home they live in are not left behind and improving consumer awareness.
It outlined how polling undertaken by Ecuity into SSEN’s customers’ view of low-carbon technologies suggested that there is a funding gap of around £1,600 for the uptake of heat pumps based on consumer willingness to pay and the grant level for the average household.
This research also found that 70% of respondents experienced additional barriers outside of cost to low carbon technology (LCT) or energy efficiency uptake.
SSEN has therefore identified eight actions that will accelerate the transition to decarbonised heat, with these split between the government, regulation and industry.
The government’s actions include incentivising energy efficiency and low-carbon heating deliver as markets develop and mature, to ensure the costs of the transition are managed fairly.
For regulation, the actions outlined include enabling flexible, timely and efficient investment in line with local and regional ambitions and supporting a ‘one-touch’ approach to network investment in RIIO-ED2- something which SSEN said analysis from the CCC found could avoid £34 billion of unnecessary expenditure by 2035
Actions for industry meanwhile are making time of use tariffs accessible for zero emission heat technologies and supporting open data to deliver a cost effective transition.
Lastly, two collaborative actions were identified, with these being supporting local communities having sufficient resource and capacity to deliver net zero plans and developing geographical roadmaps for heat pump uptake.
Stewart Reid, head of future networks at SSEN, said that while targets for the decarbonisation of heat have been set, "the route to how we achieve these is still being discussed".
"It is paramount that policy and regulatory arrangements align, enabling a 'one touch' approach to avoid unnecessary cost and disruption."
The consultation is set to close on 30 April, with more detail available here.