Malcolm Farrow, head of public affairs at OFTEC, responds to the Queen’s speech
Whilst we welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech to bring forward an Energy Bill to ‘deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy’ in the long term, this was a missed opportunity to set out measures to help households reduce their energy usage today and achieve the challenge of net zero.
The economic situation has changed dramatically in the past two years with the pandemic and cost of living crisis, but the government’s decarbonisation policies have not evolved to reflect this. Now, more than ever, households need realistic, affordable and achievable solutions to reduce energy bills and transition to lower carbon heating technologies and we are disappointed this has not been recognised.
These policies also need to be driven by fairness if they are to succeed and we are particularly concerned for the UK’s 1.7 million oil heated households. The government’s current policy proposal is that, from 2026, they will no longer be able to install a new fossil fuel oil boiler when their existing ones breaks down. Instead, in most cases, they will be expected to transition to a heat pump.
Due to their low energy efficiency, many off-grid homes are among the hardest to decarbonise, yet they are still at the front of the policy queue for heat pumps. It means these households will face a costly and disruptive transition, nine years earlier than their urban counterparts on mains gas who can carry on as normal until 2035. This simply isn’t fair.
To deliver on its net zero ambition, the government needs to adopt a multi-technology approach. Our industry has already demonstrated the viability of the renewable liquid fuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) as an alternative to Kerosene for oil homes. We’ve transitioned over 100 oil properties to the fossil-free fuel which reduces emissions by 88% and works in the existing boiler following a simple conversion of around £500. We urge the government to support a wider rollout.