It was recently reported and revealed that the Department of Public Expenditure secretary general raised concerns that the current Government plan to retrofit 500,000 homes to a high energy standard and install 600,000 heat pumps instead of oil and gas boilers was not affordable.
OFTEC has already highlighted flaws in this ideology to DCCAE and the majority of TDs, with the comment now reinforcing the need to implement a fair, efficient methodology to tackling climate action in homes, one that is affordable and realistic for the 686,000 homes in Ireland's off grid heating sector
David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager, commented, Asking households to invest as much as €50k to retrofit their home is completely unrealistic, with only small grants available equating not even to a tenth of this overall cost. Over 90% of off-grid properties are below BER C1 in Ireland, meaning that these properties are not suitable to move to heat pumps without significant upgrade, mass disruption and expense – many homeowners will not wish to adopt these measures and associated costs.
The liquid fuel organisation is proposing the introduction of a sustainable biofuel option for homes, utilising existing heating equipment currently used in households.
OFTEC is lobbying Government to introduce a strategy for off grid homes that recognises the benefits a renewable biofuel can deliver; a sustainable, realistic and affordable option for consumers when upgrading their heating systems. This would involve the introduction of a blended biofuel to immediately reduce carbon emissions, with the aim of supplying a 100% sustainable liquid fuel by 2035.
Mr Blevings added, OFTEC is not against the use of heat pumps; we recognise the clear benefits these offer to new build and thermally efficient houses. However, an older, less thermally efficient house can move to a renewable fuel with a simple stepped approach through blended fuels initially. We believe this is the least costly and disruptive way to immediately reduce carbon emissions and achieve sustainability across the majority of off grid homes in Ireland.
This is particularly important given the predictions that financial recovery from the current Covid-19 pandemic is likely to be protracted for most homeowners and they will not have the cash to engage in substantial remodelling works to make their homes suitable for heat pumps.
OFTEC is asking the Government to include home heating in the biofuels obligation, with Mr Blevings commenting, The inclusion of home heating oil in the biofuels obligation is doable, it's a seamless transition for existing liquid fuel users. We can start blending home heating oil with fossil fuels now and deliver a 100% renewable fuel by 2035. It is a simple solution for Government, particularly if the Department of Public Expenditure is highlighting that the current plan is not affordable.