These will be connected to thermal storage units that will allow householders to be flexible around their energy demand for heating.
The aim of Project Re-Heat, spearheaded by the Scottish Government, SP Energy Networks (SPEN) and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), is to help find the best way to decarbonisation domestic heating across Scotland as the country works towards reaching neutral greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
It is the first large-scale trial of electrified heat by distribution network operators and will develop both technical and commercial solutions that can be implemented nationwide as demand for green energy rises.
Estimates suggest more than one million homes across will convert to environmentally friendly heating systems such as heat pumps as part of the drive to achieve climate targets and move away from fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.
Minister for zero carbon buildings Patrick Harvie said: “Meeting our ambitious climate targets will require rapid reduction in carbon emissions across our homes and buildings.
“I am pleased the Scottish Government could support this innovative project, which demonstrates how we can cut carbon emissions faster by installing intelligent systems that use our growing energy resource efficiently.
“It also highlights that, working together with public and private sector partners, we can ensure our homes and buildings are climate-friendly and bring benefits to communities and local economies across the country.”
Heat pumps are devices that transfer thermal energy from one point to another – the same type of technology used to cool refrigerators.
For domestic heating, the pumps utilise potential thermal energy from the air outside – or from the ground or water – and use it to warm the inside.
The devices are considered environmentally friendly because they don’t depend on burning fossil fuels to create the heat.
“Achieving net zero emissions by 2045 will only be possible if we begin to work on real solutions to support the decarbonisation of heat now,” said Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SPEN.
“Our electricity networks are at the heart of the transition to a low-carbon Scotland, but we need to ensure they are able to cope with the significant increase in demand we’re projecting as more and more low-carbon heating solutions are connected into our network.”
Stewart Reid, head of future networks at SSEN, added: “We have 7,500 heat pumps already installed on our network across the north of Scotland and anticipate this will increase to half a million by the middle of this century.
“Project Re-Heat will be vital to build our understanding of how we manage this cost-effectively and ensure our network is ready.”
The Scottish Government, SPEN and SSEN are part of a Heat Electrification Strategic Partnership together, which will focus on accelerating the decarbonisation of heating in Scotland.