An investigation into fuel poverty and heat demand throughout Scotland
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The Scottish Government have set a range of energy targets to be achieved by 2020 which include eradicating fuel poverty and reducing heat demand. Currently, over 50% of energy consumed within Scotland is used to heat and cool buildings and 28% of Scottish residents are living in fuel poverty. Recent studies, undertaken by the British Geological Survey have identified the possibility to utilise geothermal energy within the Midland Valley of Scotland to contribute up to 27% of Scotland’s renewable heat target and reduce the number of Scottish residents in fuel poverty. A household is defined as in fuel poverty if over 10% of income is spent on fuel to adequately heat a home. Using multi-criteria evaluation within Geographical Information Science platforms, an analysis has been undertaken to establish the areas most vulnerable to fuel poverty at local authority level in order for the Scottish Government to target those areas relative to the 2020 energy aims. The methodology has built on previous studies by undertaking statistical analysis in order to correlate relationships between indicators and heat demand for the multi-criteria evaluation. Results found the local authorities with the highest heat demand are in fact located within the Midland Valley of Scotland, therefore it is argued throughout this research that there is the possibility to develop future geothermal applications to supply lower cost energy to those in fuel poverty. In this paper a suitable methodology is presented which can be utilised by Scottish local authorities to target the most vulnerable areas within the extent of geothermal energy extraction with district heat networks, thereby producing lower cost energy for those who need it most.