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Support for supply chain


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

A selection of research papers covering skills gap and training needs, energy efficiency and low carbon market, changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, as well as feedback on industry workshops carried out in Scotland.

Heat network skills in Scotland


The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Government on 2 March 2020 and forms part of the Scottish Government’s response to the global climate emergency.

The bill aims to stimulate the deployment of heat networks in Scotland by providing regulation, which will increase investor, consumer and supply chain certainty, as well as build trust in the sector.

Consequently, heating networks in Scotland are expected to create new demands on the supply chains needed to design, install, commission and maintain these networks.

Following a stakeholder workshop in November 2019,* which highlighted that there was a range of skills gaps (for example, design, installation and project management) that were creating challenges for the sector, Energy Saving Trust and the Scottish Government commissioned research to help identify the skills gaps and training needs of the heat network supply chain in Scotland.

*Including product suppliers, energy companies, local authorities, consultants and public sector organisations

Heat network skills in Scotland report

The subsequent research report completed by Dr Ruth Bush of the Heat and the City research team at the University of Edinburgh provides an in-depth analysis of the current experiences of individuals working in this sector. It identifies some existing skills gaps within the heat network supply chains and assesses the potential for developing training provision within Scottish colleges and universities to help fill these gaps.

Research was conducted in two phases using semi-structured interviews with heat network practitioners, college and university lecturers, combined with an online review of available courses.

Interviews were also carried out with nine heat network operators and managers from both rural and urban networks in Scotland.

Key recommendations

The key recommendations coming out of this report are:

Specialist heat network training centres

  • consider setting up one or two specialist heat network training centres within colleges and universities to pool resources and student demand; delivering stand-alone short-courses and / or optional modules for existing courses, linked with opportunities for hands-on learning and addressing the key skills gaps identified
  • the Energy Skills Partnership Scotland could play an invaluable role in facilitating training development in the college sector, given their experience delivering similar objectives with other low carbon technologies
  • additional focus should be given to rural colleges that are within proximity of existing networks areas to implement the general recommendations below and consider offering funding to support rural contractors to attend training courses

General recommendations

  • facilitate collaboration between the heat network industry and colleges and universities to enable sharing of case studies, data for dissertation projects, site visits, student placements, industry guest lectures and graduate job opportunities
    • ‘train-the-trainer’ CPD opportunities for lecturers. At college level, this could focus on the requirements for installation and maintenance of innovative low carbon, low temperature networks. At university level, this could focus on design of low carbon heat networks and their integration into regional decarbonisation planning, with a particular consideration of the challenges of retrofitting networks
  • there is potential for the heat network industry to coordinate efforts to shape new curriculum content and ensure any new heat network training courses are viable with a steady student demand. Actions might include:
    • commitments to provide student numbers to participate in relevant training courses delivered by the centre
    • representing the industry on college and university advisory panels and to input into the development of new heat network course content


Next steps

Having presented the results to the Scottish Government and disseminated the research to key stakeholders, Energy Saving Trust is now looking at the next phase of this work, which is to work with industry and the Scottish colleges and universities identified in the research to develop specialist training courses.


If you have any comments or questions about this work, please email [email protected]

UK Government heat network skills review

In parallel to the report published for Scotland, the UK Government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a report on the heat network skills review this September.

The Scottish Government worked with BEIS to ensure coordination of heat network skills at a Scottish and a UK level.

Further details on this report can be found here.

Energy efficiency and low carbon market research


In 2016 Energy Saving Trust commissioned  Amec Foster Wheeler to carry out some research into the energy efficiency and low carbon market in Scotland.  Funded by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government with the support of Zero Waste Scotland, the research has provided us with a ‘snapshot’ report from both a demand and supply perspective.

Executive summary report

You can read the executive summary report here.

If you would like to request a copy of the full research report then please email us on [email protected].

Key insights

A total of 95 buyer organisations and eighty suppliers participated in the research.  These included local authorities, housing associations, commercial buyers, installers and energy assessors.


Housing Associations: EESSH targets continue to drive demand from Housing Associations for insulation works and low carbon heating services (an estimated 17% of stock held by survey respondents doesn’t presently meet EESSH standards).  Average expenditure per respondent is projected at £864K over the next three years.

Local authorities: Local authority buyers expect to purchase insulation works and low carbon heating services in the next three years. Within their own estates this could value up to £850k per local authority in the next three years.

Higher / further education (HFE): The HFE sector anticipates expenditure of approx. £550,000 in the next three years per institution. This will be targeted predominantly at insulation works and low carbon heating services.

Other public sector: Across the public sector in Scotland, gaps in buyer procurement skills and short-term funding models restrict the scale of low carbon works undertaken.

Industrial / commercial: Industrial / commercial buyers continue to seek energy efficiency cost savings via low carbon works. However, their projected modal expenditure is modest (less than £10,000 per organisation).


Buyers are inconsistent in their means of procurement (single / multi-lot frameworks; overlapping funding leading to multiple tenders for similar works; revised tender specifications etc), particularly where opportunities are spread across multi-lot frameworks as it is much easier for larger suppliers to bid across lots. Therefore, buyers need to consider how to engage more fully and effectively with the supply chain, particularly SMEs, through more consistent procurement routes.


Of respondents to this survey, suppliers typically have 10 employees or less and an annual turnover below £500,000. A total 44% of respondents offer services across all areas of Scotland. While most suppliers deliver services in-house there is also significant use of sub-contracting to meet specific project needs. Suppliers remain cautious in terms of the scale of market opportunities available to them in the next three years. In addition, around one third of the supply chain is not engaged with public sector buyers.


The research yielded 12 recommendations:

  1.  For future market delivery, encourage consortia working amongst the supply chain.
  2.  Provide procurement guidance for suppliers to engage with public sector buyers.
  3.  For advertising opportunities, explore supplier attitudes to multi-channel advertising of opportunities.
  4.  Offer consolidated service offering profiles of suppliers to buyers.
  5.  Provide procurement guidance and training programme for all local authority buyers.
  6.  Encourage buyers to publish forward plans and/or prior information notices.
  7.  Encourage more buyer and supplier engagement events.
  8.  Provide guidance for buyers on assessment of value for money.
  9.  Encourage consistent procurement routes among buyers including a dedicated SEEP category in PCS.
  10.  Provide buyers with clear routes to obtaining funding (particularly over the mid to long term).
  11.  Avoid time constrained funding allocations.
  12.  Provide suppliers with a clear overview of the scale of funding available to buyers.

Next steps

Energy Saving Trust will be working closely with the project partners including the Scottish Government to take forward the recommendations arising from this research.


Energy Saving Trust held a webinar on 11 October 2017, which gave an over view of the key insights gained from the research. This included insights into:

  • the future demand for energy efficiency measures from key buyers in Scotland
  • supply chain characteristics in Scotland

You can read a copy of the webinar slides here.

Renewable Heat Incentive scheme - consultation update

On 14 December 2016, the UK Government published their response to the consultation on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The consultation proposed several changes to the existing domestic and non domestic RHI scheme. Below is a summary of the UK Government’s final proposals in relation to the domestic scheme, which the UK Government intends to implement in spring 2017 subject to parliamentary approval.

  • the scheme will continue to support all four technologies currently supported
  • the tariffs for new ASHPs will be increased to 10.02 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh)
  • the tariffs for new GSHPs will be increased to 19.55p/kWh
  • the tariff for new biomass installations will be increased to 6.44p/kWh, the level available between October and December 2015, adjusted for inflation
  • the increased tariff for biomass boilers and stoves, ASHPs and GSHPs will be applicable to those participants who apply to the scheme on or after 14 December 2016 (the date the consultation response was published) although the increased tariffs will only apply from the date the regulations come into force. Participants will receive the existing tariffs for heat used (on the basis of either deeming or metering) before this point. This approach is intended to encourage consumers to continue to install renewable heating systems between the date of the consultation response and the date the changes come into force, to avoid a hiatus in investment and consequential impacts on the supply chain
  • heat demand limits will be introduced, to limit the level of annual heat demand in respect of which any household can receive support. The heat demand limits will be set at 20,000kWh for ASHPs, 25,000kWh for biomass boilers and stoves and 30,000kWh for GSHPs. However, this will not disqualify properties with higher heat demands from applying to the scheme. There will be no heat demand limit for solar thermal
  • all new ASHPs and GSHPs applying for support under the scheme will be required to have electricity metering to monitor their heating system. However, payments will continue to be on the basis of the deemed heating requirements of the property, except for second homes and where a renewable heating system is installed alongside another heating system, in which cases payments will continue to be on the basis of heat metering
  • GSHPs making use of a shared ground loop will continue to be eligible for the non-domestic scheme and will not be eligible on the domestic
  • there will be some changes to the budget management arrangements for the scheme

If you have any questions about the policy decisions made in the consultation response then you can contact BEIS at [email protected].

More information on all of the above changes including non domestic can be found is available.

If you have any questions about an existing DRHI application or a system already approved for DRHI payments then please contact Ofgem eServe, the scheme administrators, at 0300 030 0744 between 9am-5pm Monday-Friday or email [email protected].

Energy efficiency and microgeneration – industry research feedback

Energy Saving Trust held two workshops with the energy efficiency and microgeneration industry in May/June 2016 to identify what the key barriers are facing these industries in Scotland.

Attendees included installers, manufacturers, assessors, consultants, trade bodies, local authorities and representatives from the Scottish Government.  Key topics discussed included:

  • skills and training
  • certifications and consumer protection
  • funding and procurement
  • building standards and planning

From feedback given at the workshops we have highlighted the key barriers facing the industry along with recommendations for overcoming them.

Key findings - energy efficiency workshop

The energy efficiency workshop identified 22 barriers. These include:

  • issues relating to awareness, cost and support available for modern apprenticeships
  • the industry is not attractive enough to young people
  • more enforcement and policing of energy efficiency measures is needed in Scotland
  • communications should be improved in relation to the schemes to help improve awareness
  • there are consistency issues in terms of the level of service and requirements across local authorities

Key recommendations - energy efficiency workshop

The energy efficiency workshop identified 16 recommendations for overcoming these barriers.  These include:

  • increase awareness of funding and support available for modern apprenticeships
  • consider setting up a government-industry contact group
  • increase the amount of audits and inspections for government funded installations
  • consider new approaches for promoting energy efficiency schemes
  • increase awareness of the building standards dispute resolution process amongst suppliers

Key findings - microgeneration workshop

The microgeneration workshop identified 10 barriers facing the industry. These include:

  • the inaccuracy of some performance estimates given to householders by installers is an issue for the industry. This is particularly true for heat pumps and biomass
  • there is a lack of awareness amongst householders in relation to renewables and the associated benefits
  • Home Energy Scotland renewables loans are not high enough (in terms of percentage contributions) and solar PV maximum value is not high enough.
  • there is a lack of MCS enforcement ‘on the ground’
  • MCS Quality Management Systems (QMS) requirements are regarded by some as too onerous for micro-sized companies

Key recommendations - microgeneration workshop

The microgeneration workshop identified 10 recommendations for overcoming these barriers. These include:

  • MCS to provide a standardised approach/template for installers to ensure householders are given consistent information
  • Energy Saving Trust to discuss with the Scottish Government further ways in which to promote the benefits of installing renewables to householders
  • Energy Saving Trust to review the loan scheme support levels with Scottish Government
  • MCS should audit installers more whilst ensuring greater enforcement of the scheme. MCS should also publish a timetable outlining the steps it is taking to address this (for example when it plans to appoint an independent company to carry out audits and verification)
  • MCS should review and adapt if necessary QMS requirements to make it more relevant to micro-sized businesses

Next steps

Energy Saving Trust has provided the Scottish Government with copies of these final reports  which  will be used to help inform the development of key policy areas including the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy and the development of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP).

Energy Saving Trust will work closely with the Scottish Government to develop an action plan outlining  what is required to help overcome the barriers identified in these reports.

Previous findings

Next steps

  • If you would like to receive regular email updates from us on industry news, events, training opportunities and information on government schemes, as well as, get exclusive access to our quarterly newsletter, Energise Scotland, then please complete our sign up form.

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  • If you would like to discuss developments within the energy efficiency and renewable markets with colleagues in the industry and keep up to date with developments and opportunities, you should join our LinkedIn discussion group.

    Join here
  • The Local Homes Portal is a tool developed to help suppliers to understand the energy efficiency and renewable markets in Scotland. It contains important information on housing attributes including EPC data and is designed to help build your business strategy.

    Find out more

Last updated: November 18th, 2020