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Trade association encourages homeowners to start transition to biofuels

Trade association UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA), has launched a campaign advising 2.18m households who use oil across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, on a transition plan to decarbonise the heating in their homes through the use of biofuels.

Guy Pulham, UKIFDA chief executive

UKIFDA is working with trade associations within the liquid fuels supply chain to lobby the UK and Irish Governments to develop a transition that enables consumers not connected to the gas grid to cut their carbon emissions through a series of planned steps rather than one major heating system change.

Biofuels would allow off-grid homes to switch to a more environmentally friendly fuel with lower carbon emissions straightaway, with a view to fully transition over time. Importantly though, there will be minimum disruption to households as they can continue to use a liquid fuel form of heating without making large scale changes to their home heating.

Guy Pulham, UKIFDA chief executive, commented: 'Transitioning to biofuels is key in reaching both the UK and Irish Government's decarbonisation targets, and in a way that works for consumers too.

'We are also keen to stress that oil boilers are not banned in existing homes and Government has not announced any plans to do this,' he added.

'If consumers want to change their existing oil boiler for a new oil boiler they can still do so. We recommend switching to a condensing boiler for greater energy efficiency and in preparation for transitioning to biofuel in time.

'Highly efficient, oil-fired condensing heating systems provide an excellent way to begin contributing to the energy transition, as modern equipment consumes virtually all the fuel used. Compared to outdated, standard boilers, they save up to 25% of the fuel oil – which also means a 25% reduction in your carbon emissions. Typically, a new condensing oil-fired boiler will have an efficiency of 92% to 93% and there are now over 90 'A' rated models on the market.

'We have been lobbying the UK Government and the Committee on Climate Change and the Irish Government and the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAi) to support our industry's strategy which presents solutions in a timeframe that exceeds the net-zero emission legislation. The first stage of this vision is for government to incentivise all homeowners (irrelevant of type of heating system) to make energy efficiency improvements in their own homes. We suggest improvements such as fitting smart meters to tanks, installing smart temperature controls across homes and installing better insulation. All of these improvements will increase energy efficiency, create carbon efficiency and reduce bills.

'The continued focus on electrification of heat using heat pumps for those off-grid does not take into account the high price consumers would have to pay to change existing systems. The majority of the UK's rural off grid homes are pre 1919 and retrofitting would be expensive, especially as so many would need to improve insulation, and the running costs would be too much. Over 90% of Ireland's off-grid properties are below BER C1 and these are not very suitable for moving to an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) without significant disruption and expense. Recent studies undertaken by fellow trade association OFTEC and their consultants In Perpetuum (2019) suggest that biofuels offer the most efficient and cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions in off-gas grid homes due to the type and fabric of the houses. These studies suggest that retrofitting homes so that they can efficiently operate on newer technologies such as heat pumps could cost up to £11,000 (dependant on type of house) if only reasonable improvements are required or over £11,000 (and up to circa £50,000 in larger homes) for deeper retrofits. The cost of a new condensing boiler (if required) and biofuel tank will range from £1,500 to £7,000 dependant on house size. Liquid fuels can and, should be, part of the solution for the future of off-grid heating.

'In Ireland recent research indicates that it costs between €40,000 to €60,000 on average to upgrade a house to make it suitable for a heat pump. The cost of a new condensing boiler (if required) and biofuel tank will range from €1,700 to €7,500 dependant on house size.

'We feel that adding biofuels into the energy mix for meeting carbon reduction targets and having a pathway to biofuels is key in reaching decarbonisation targets, and in a way that works for consumers too.

'The ultimate biofuels on the market will be 0% fossil. However, initially, the introduction of transitional fuels such as B30K mean consumers can change the fuel without changing the heating system as they would work with current oil condensing boilers and infrastructure with minimal tweaks. The ideal pathway to the 0% fossil biofuel will take into account government ambition and consumer finances proving clear legislation to enable appropriate industry innovation to supply the new fuels.'


22 June 2020


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