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Scottish Government plan ‘could worsen fuel poverty’ in new homes  

Solar Energy Scotland
25 October 2022 

“Major unintended consequences” will follow from implementing proposed changes to Scottish building standards unless they are revised, trade body Solar Energy Scotland has warned. The planned changes can only raise consumer bills amid the worst energy crisis in two generations. 

Plans detailed in the Scottish Government’s second consultation on the ‘New Build Heat Standard’ would remove the need to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on new homes and other buildings. According to calculations by Solar Energy Scotland, the impact could be £900 of needless expenditure on energy per property each year. 

The plan has come despite rooftop solar power being inexpensive and easy-to-implement. It would be implemented by amending the ‘notional dwelling’ described in the Scottish Building Regulations.  

Furthermore, the move could destroy growing businesses.  “If this standard is enacted and solar PV is not mandated on new build housing with heat pumps, this will damage a successful Scottish business sector,” said Solar Energy Scotland Policy Analyst Emily Rice.   

As Solar Energy Scotland’s response to the consultation states: “We cannot stress enough that unless solar is added to the heat pump notional house specification, to reduce overall energy bills, the interaction of the two will make energy bills higher for residents. This will lead to the first change in building regulations in history that does not reduce bills. This directly contradicts the policy objective of reducing the rate of energy poverty in Scotland.”   

The move, should it go ahead, would exacerbate the social consequences of the energy price crisis. According to Scottish Government figures, more than two in five households relying on power drawn exclusively from the grid for heating were in fuel poverty in 2019. That proportion can only have risen since then combined with drawing more electricity. 

In contrast, combining a heat pump with solar power can slash bills and greenhouse gas emissions together, according to a new Solar Energy UK report on decarbonised heating.[2] In contrast, the risk of allowing developers to install a heat pump alone could raise costs for consumers substantially.   

  

[1] Response
[2] The Value of Solar Heat    

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Editors’ notes: 
For more information or to request an interview, please contact: 

Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser | [email protected] 

[email protected] | solarenergyuk.org