The Scottish Government is seeking new ways to solve the problem of unaffordable power costs in buildings without gas supply. It is hoped that doing this would not only ease the burden on householders, but also help meet the national climate targets. Now a joint paper by gas firm Calor, think tank Common Weal and the Energy Poverty Research Initiative says Danish-style community heat schemes could help lower bills outwith urban areas. However, this solution may only work for 60% of properties and those that cannot be connected could use biogas boilers in conjunction with building-mounted solar generators, the research found.

The conclusion is based on research carried out with Glasgow Caledonian University and comes decades after Denmark took steps to create its large-scale networks, which collect “waste” heat from factories and transport systems and redistribute this. They also take in energy from conventional power stations and renewables.

More than 90% of rural residents who are income poor are also fuel poor, according to research. This is far higher than in towns and cities and the problem is linked to poor physical and mental health and lower education attainment.

Some campaigners summarise the situation for struggling households as a “heat or eat” choice.

The new paper – a joint submission to a Scottish Government consultation on the matter – reads: “It is generally thought that district heating is not a viable option for rural areas.

“This is true for very remote properties, but in fact the cost for installing rural district heating is not substantially higher than urban district heating schemes. This is because, while the distances are greater, the necessary pipework is easier to install because access is easier. “There is therefore no reason district heating cannot supply a solution to much of rural Scotland.”

The submission was entered last week and the consultation closed on June 18. Scotland aims to access half of its total energy requirements from green sources by 2030.

In his call for evidence, MSP Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said: “Scotland’s transformation into a low-carbon society can only be achieved with public, private and third sectors working together and with the involvement of everyone. “Our aim is, therefore, to work closely with businesses, the public sector, and individuals to achieve Scotland’s ambitious goals.”

Source: The National Scot