It’s time for Government to back low carbon liquid fuels, says OFTEC

It’s time for Government to back low carbon liquid fuels, says OFTEC

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 By OFTEC

OFTEC’s ‘Industrial Strategy for decarbonising oil heated homes’ underlines the unique 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% are detached and typically larger than average. These factors greatly contribute to their poor energy efficiency, with 97% falling into EPC Bands D-G¹.

Rural households also face additional challenges including lower disposable incomes² and significantly deeper levels of fuel poverty³. 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 (typically £6,000 to £18,000) but in many older, poorly insulated properties, will require extensive energy efficiency improvements to be made, such as new windows and external cladding, to work efficiently. New, larger radiators, underfloor heating and hot water tanks would also need to be installed in many cases.

Switching heat technology is particularly problematic in ‘distress’ purchase 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.

OFTEC says it’s difficult to understand why current decarbonisation policy favours pushing oil heated households towards these expensive, disruptive solutions when a simpler, more affordable option can be developed which is less reliant on extensive retrofit work.

Paul Rose, OFTEC CEO 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 cost⁴. 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% liquid biofuel by 2035, starting with a 30% biofuel and 70% 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.

Paul Rose concludes: “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. For most oil heated homes this will be to retain and optimise their existing heating system and simply switch to a sustainable fuel.

“The liquid fuel industry also needs to be provided with confidence to invest for the future. Our new strategy clearly outlines the steps needed to achieve this and we will continue to work hard on behalf of industry and the 1.53 million oil heated households we serve to ensure these are implemented.”



¹ BEIS Minister Written Answer, 29/10/2018 based on Analysis of National Housing Model input data, drawing from English Housing Survey 2014, Scottish Housing Condition Survey 2014, Welsh Housing Conditions Survey 2014

² DEFRA Statistical digest of rural England, June 2019

³ Renewable Energy Association Phase 3: Delivering the UK’s Bioenergy Potential

⁴ Based on existing SAP 10.1 figures.

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