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Time for government to back low carbon liquid fuels

As OFTEC launches its strategy outlining how low carbon liquid fuels offer the best decarbonisation solution for oil heated homes, the trade association has called on government to back what it describes as a practical and cost-effective solution.

Average annualised carbon saving cost.

OFTEC’s ‘Industrial Strategy for decarbonising oil heated homes’ underlines the challenge reducing heat emissions from off-grid properties presents, due to the diverse character, age, design, construction and sparse distribution of these homes.

Analysis of oil heated properties in England alone reveals almost half were built before 1919 with hard to insulate, single-skinned walls, while 51 per cent are detached and typically larger than average. These factors greatly contribute to their poor energy efficiency, with 97 per cent falling into EPC Bands D-G.

Rural households also face additional challenges including lower disposable incomes and significantly deeper levels of fuel poverty. This means those least able to fund carbon reduction measures are living in the hardest and most expensive homes to treat.

The low carbon solution most frequently advocated for oil heated homes is heat pumps, yet these technologies are not only costly to install but in many older, poorly insulated properties will require extensive energy efficiency improvements to be made to work efficiently.

Switching heat technology is particularly problematic in situations when an existing boiler has broken down. Cost is nearly always a major consideration and there is little time to consider an entirely different heating system with all the complications this could bring.

Paul Rose, OFTEC chief executive, explains: “Climate change is the biggest and most urgent challenge facing the world today and decisive action from all sectors of the economy is needed, including heat. Gaining consumer support for the necessary changes will be crucial to the success of any strategy. Without this vital part of the jigsaw, there is a risk that decarbonisation targets simply won’t be met.

“The nature of off-grid homes in the UK, including the 1.53 million heated by oil, means they will be amongst the most difficult to improve. Most are unsuited to solutions such as heat pumps without significant, costly retrofits which consumers are highly unlikely to embrace. What these households need are affordable solutions that are simple to deploy.

“Our strategy is based on in-depth, independent research which shows that for oil heated properties, low carbon liquid fuels offer the highest carbon reduction impact for the lowest cost. Analysis also shows that sustainable, low carbon liquid fuels could be produced in sufficient volume in the UK, with the additional benefit of generating investment opportunities and creating new green jobs.

“Our industry is committed to delivering a 100 per cent liquid bio-fuel by 2035, starting with a 30 per cent bio-fuel and 70 per cent kerosene blend from 2027, providing a fit-for-purpose solution which will command the confidence of consumers.”

OFTEC continues to work closely with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and other key stakeholders to gain support for low carbon liquid fuels but to achieve the wholesale changes required and successfully deploy this solution, full government backing will be required.

Mr Rose concluded: “It’s time for government to stop ignoring the facts and start supporting a decarbonisation solution that is fit for the challenge of rural homes. Whichever low carbon option is chosen consumers will need help to afford the necessary changes, so it makes sense for government to back the most cost-effective option, along with the alternatives.”

3 December 2019

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