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Report 6 October 2017

Renewable heat in Scotland, 2016

Location notice

Please note that this page contains information and links most relevant for people living in Scotland.


A new report has since been published in this series – please see the 2020 report for the most up to date information.

As a result, the figures in this publication are no longer applicable and should not be used. Historical reports remain available online to show changes to the methodology over the duration of the reporting series.

Much of the data used for the Renewable Heat in Scotland report is reviewed and updated on an annual basis, therefore improvements to the historical published figures will only be found in the latest report. These improvements may be due to access to new or improved datasets, changes to the methodology or corrections.


The Scottish Government has set a target for 11% of non-electrical heat demand in Scotland to be met from renewable sources by 2020.

In order to help measure progress towards this target Energy Saving Trust maintains a database of renewable heat installations (referred to as the Renewable Heat Database or dataset throughout this report) on behalf of the Scottish Government. The database records installations known to be operating and those currently in various stages of development. It contains data on the capacity and yearly heat output of those installations and is updated annually.

The database has now been updated with new information on heat generated from renewable sources during the 2016 calendar year.

As well as tracking progress towards the Scottish Government’s renewable heat target this report also provides commentary on accreditations under the domestic and non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes between December 2016 and August 2017, as an indicator of the growth in renewable heat into the next reporting year.

For any questions or comments relating to the Renewable Heat Database or accompanying analysis and report please contact

Summary of key findings

We estimate that:

  • 0.710 GW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland by the end of 2016, up 13% (191 MW) from 2015, producing an estimated 3,752 GWh of actual heat from renewable sources, which is a decrease of 11% (453 GWh) from 2015
  • this reduction in output was primarily due to changes at a small number of large sites. Large sites (greater than 1 MW) accounted for 0.717 GW of renewable heat capacity in 2016, and 2,070 GWh renewable heat output. This is a small increase in capacity compared to 2015 (an increase of 0.007 GW), but a large drop in output (of 888 GWh)
  • for both ‘micro’ and ‘small to medium’ sized installations, capacity and output have increased between 2015 and 2016. However, in both size categories, this increase is lower than that seen in previous years – i.e. the rate of increase in capacity and output has declined. This may be the result of RHI tariff reductions and broader uncertainty around UK Government policy regarding the RHI during and after consultation affecting investor confidence
  • in 2016 Scotland generated an estimated 4.8 – 5.0% of its non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources, a reduction from 5.4% in 2015, which is the first reduction seen since 2008/09

Last updated: 11 November 2021