With no connection to the UK national grid, Shetland looked to neighbouring Scandinavia for a low-carbon, sustainable heating system model to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, writes Anthony Harrington. If Scotland is going to reach its net-zero target by 2045, one of the things that is going to have to change is the way we heat our homes, offices and public buildings. At present some 30 percent or more of the nation’s carbon emissions come from heating these three estates through gas-fired boilers. By way of contrast, the Scandinavian countries have been using a number of district heating systems for many decades. As a result, they have amassed a considerable body of evidence to show that these systems can have a considerably lower carbon footprint than an equivalent number of individual gas-fired heating units. In Shetland, where there is no connection to the UK’s mains gas grid, the community is able to boast a successful, fully functioning district heating system that has been heating some 1300 island homes, public buildings and businesses for some 21 years now. While the Shetland example does not help to solve the problem of how government could best drive a transition away from the traditional gas fired boilers, it does provide a close-to-home example of a moderately large-scale, successfully functioning district heating system which was modelled, in large part, on the Scandinavian experience. When the Shetland Islands’ Council decided back in the mid-1990s, to look into ways of implementing a sustainable heating system, it opted to study Scandinavian examples. In particular, as Derek Leask, executive director of the company that runs the Islands’ heating systems notes, the council was interested in waste-to-heating schemes.
Herald 23rd July 2021 read more »