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Report 11 November 2021

Renewable heat in Scotland, 2020

Location notice

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

Changes to the report

Version two of this report corrects an error with the estimated heat output at some large biomass sites.

For 2020, biomass output was reduced from 3,578GWh to 3,512GWh; total output was reduced from 5,074GWh to 5,008GWh and the Scottish Government’s progress towards their target remains unchanged at 6.4% due to rounding and is now an increase, rather than a decrease, compared to the corrected 2019 values.

For 2019, biomass output was reduced from 3,816GWh to 3,531GWh; total output was reduced from 5,209GWh to 4,925GWh and progress towards the target was reduced from 6.6% to 6.2%. This change results in an increase to overall progress against the target between 2019 and 2020, rather than the decrease previously reported.

For 2018, biomass output was reduced from 3,878GWh to 3,663GWh; total output was reduced from 5,028GWh to 4,813GWh and progress towards the target was reduced from 6.2% to 6.0%.

Some percentages contained in the local authority analysis section of this report have also been changed as a result of corrections in the overall contribution of different technology classes.

The corrected figures have been used throughout this report. Previously published figures are no longer applicable.


The Scottish Government has set a target for 11% of non-electrical heat demand in Scotland to be met from renewable sources, such as biomass or heat pumps, 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.

This report tracks progress towards the Scottish Government’s renewable heat target. It also provides commentary on accreditations under the domestic and non-domestic RHI schemes between December 2020 and August 2021, as an indicator of the growth in renewable heat into the next reporting year.

All figures presented throughout this report are taken from a revised time series for Renewable Heat in Scotland covering 2010 to 2020. Accordingly, the figures may differ from those in previous publications and are intended to replace any historically published figures.

Version two of the Renewable Heat in Scotland 2020 report was published to address some errors in the previously reported figures. Throughout the report we have used the revised figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020 and all previously published figures are no longer applicable.

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

Summary of key findings

The key findings of the Renewable Heat in Scotland, 2020 report are:

  • In 2020, 6.4% of non-electrical heat demand was met by renewable technologies; a little over half-way towards the target of 11% by 2020. This represents an increase of 4.5 percentage points (up from 1.9%) since 2010 and an increase of 0.2 percentage points from 2019.
  • An estimated 5,008GWh of useful heat output was generated by renewable technologies in 2020, an increase of 2% (83GWh) from 4,925GWh in 2019 and more than triple the output generated in 2010 (1,667GWh).
  • The increase in output between 2019 and 2020 was primarily from heat pumps (83GWh), medium sized biomass installations (32GWh) and biogas (19GWh). Overall growth has been limited by a 52GWh output reduction from large biomass sites due to changes in operation at a small number of these sites.
  • 2.14GW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland by the end of 2020, up from 2.06GW in 2019 and from 0.44GW in 2010.
  • The total reported heat output and capacity comes from 38,920 operational renewable energy installations, up from 35,730 in 2019.
  • Approximately 59% of the total reported heat output is accredited under both RHI schemes, 54% under the non-domestic RHI scheme and 6% under the domestic RHI scheme.


A separate appendix file has been prepared to accompany this report. Only the 2020 appendices are applicable to this report because many of the calculations, sources and assumptions used in the analysis are reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Last updated: 11 November 2021