Raw deal for rural renewables

Rural home
With the RHI and Green Deal set to encourage a push towards alternative technologies, OFTEC has taken a look at the true costs of going green for rural homeowners.
Using the Energy Saving Trust’s online ‘home energy generation selector’, costs and energy savings were calculated across a range of renewable technologies for a typical three-bedroom cottage in east Anglia, currently using oil for heating and hot water.
If an existing oil-fired boiler was replaced with a biomass model then fuel bills would actually rise by £430 per year. Ground source and air source heat pumps did not fare much better – it would take between 31 and 200 years for any energy savings to make the installation costs worthwhile at today’s prices.
In terms of carbon savings, the biomass boiler came out best, but at an increased running cost to the consumer. Users who switched from oil to an air source heat pump would actually be increasing their carbon emissions. The ground source heat pump represented the best option, with potential CO2 savings of 1150kg per annum.

Renewable energy comparison for rural area
Based on a 3-bedroom detached house, typical rural home in east Anglia, pre 1900 construction. Figures taken from the EST’s online ‘home energy selector’

Jeremy Hawksley, director general for OFTEC, said: “Technologies which are included in the RHI will still be more expensive than converting existing oil systems to run on bio-liquid blends, and in many cases cause severe disruption for homeowners.”
By contrast, calculations showed that oil users could reduce their carbon emissions by around 1643kg per annum by switching to a bioliquid blend. Existing oil heating systems can be converted to run on bioliquids at low cost, with very few modifications.  
OFTEC believes that if this blend is included in the RHI, 90% of existing oil customers could transfer to use it by 2020.