Glasgow City Council has set out its vision for how decarbonised heating may be delivered over the coming decades and it suggests that two-thirds of homes could be on heat networks.

The plan, called a Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES)  offers clues for those wondering whether the area in which they live will be one more likely to be dominated by individual heat pumps or other form of heating, or joined up to some kind of district heating network.

Underpinning that plan, partly, is the enormous potential of the generation of water-source heat from the Clyde, as well as other heat sources - for instance energy from waste - around the city.

Glasgow has a significantly higher percentage of flatted properties at 74% compared to 40% nationally, and a high level of homes, over four-fifths, fuelled by mains gas.

Among the big carbon emitters are the iconic old tenement housing, so popular with many residents, whose poor energy efficiency results in heat loss and contributes to fuel poverty. Fuel poverty, the strategy estimates is “significantly higher than 25%.”

Where will the heat networks be?

“Glasgow,” says the strategy, “is a significantly heat dense urban area of Scotland and as such, the deployment of heat networks will be a key mechanism in delivering net zero carbon and therefore is a priority focus.”

It has been calculated that around 46% of residents – in around 66% of the city’s homes – have the potential to be connected to district heating networks of some kind.

Extensive spatial analysis, it says, has been done to “identify where in the city heat networks could be the most viable”.  Nine primary zones have been proposed, plus a number of secondary zones which are in areas where sources of heat supply are not so obvious. 

The Herald: Glasgow City prospective heat network map

The primary zones. Is your home within them?


The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone South 'City' 

A central area framed by the M8 and the Clyde. Potential heat sources are River Clyde and Drygate Brewery.


South 1

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone South 1

A zone which covers a stretch south of the Clyde from Richmond Park to Tradeston. Potential heat sources are, the plan says, "the River Clyde and the distillery, offering the possibility for heat extraction and waste heat recovery."

South 2

The Herald: Glasgow city prospective heat network zone South 2

An area where a prime possible heat source is the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC) 

South West 1

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone South West 1

A stretch south of the Clyde centred on the Glasgow Science Centre with "considerable" heat potential in the River Clyde but also some waste heat sources.

South West 2

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone South West 2

An area around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital with potential heat sources in the River Clyde, Shieldhall Water Treatment facility and the South Clyde Energy Centre.

West 1

The Herald: Glasgow City heat network zone West 1

An area north of the Clyde around Kelvinhaugh and the OVO Hydro with likely heat source in the River Clyde.

 North West 1

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone North West 1

 An area north of the river including Kelvingrove, the University of Glasgow Campus and stretching up to Anniesland. Both the Clyde and the River Kelvin are potential heat sources.

West 2

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone West 2

A zone stretching from Yorkhill Quay, which already has a planned district heating development, to Knightswood.

East 2 

The Herald: Glasgow city heat network zone East 2

Around Dalmarnock, where Clyde Gateway D2 Grids project has already established a 5th generation heat network.

Where will there be individual heat pumps?

For many individual heat pumps may remain a good choice. Mapping work has also be done to identify concentrations of domestic properties that are particularly suitable for the installation of a heat pump. The plan states: “This has considered building thermal efficiency alongside potential planning restrictions that may impede delivery (such as listed buildings or conservation areas).”

Areas with the most on-gas but heat-pump-ready homes are marked in deepest red below.  

The Herald: Glasgow city map. Reddest areas have most homes that are heat pump ready 

“Where larger-scale district heat networks," it says, "do not present a viable decarbonisation pathway, the deployment of heat pumps at either individual scale or as part of smaller community heat networks may be the most appropriate intervention.”

What if your home is a Pre-1919 property?

The strategy notes that these are “classed as “hard to treat” in retrofit terms because standard approaches to improve energy efficiency,...are not easily achievable and can be expensive to do”. However, Glasgow’s LHEES has “identified concentrations of pre-1919 domestic properties in the city to support project identification” and the evidence from these will be used to develop a retrofit strategy. "

It also notes: "It is likely that as the cost of electricity reduces as well of the cost of retrofitting, the average suitability of heat pumps across all archetypes from a technical and financial perspective will improve. Targeting those properties that present as most suitable will aid in overcoming these obstacles by supporting market expansion of heat pumps."

READ MORE: The Scottish Council  plans for heat pump and heat networks

READ MORE: Analysis: Let's not blow cold over heat pumps win

READ MORE: Edinburgh heat pump and heat network plans revealed

What heat sources are being considered?

The chief source being considered is water-sourced heat pump extraction from the River Clyde, whose potential “particularly in the tidal section of the river”, the strategy says, is “significant”. Other sources include energy from waste, from Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC), and the planned South Clyde Energy Centre; deep geothermal (feasability studies show a 6km deep geothermal well could produce ~200°C steam); wastewater; mineworks; waste heat from distilleries, supermarkets, data centres, launderettes and bakeries.