Will liquid fuels be heating homes in 2030?

This was just one of the many questions asked at OFTEC’s AGM last month when the long term future of the oil heating industry was under debate.

So what is OFTEC doing now to ensure that liquid fuels are being used to heat homes in 2030 and beyond?

OFTEC continues to lobby government to include bioliquids in the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which would make it easier for existing oil users to switch to a lower carbon fuel. Putting the case for bioliquids, OFTEC recently appeared in front of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee at the House of Commons. The committee is influential and it is hoped that recommendations to the energy secretary will enable bioliquids to be considered for the RHI.

With the market for oil boilers predominantly in the replacement sector, OFTEC’s strategy is to retain the present oil-fired boiler market share. Using initiatives such as the Oilsave campaign, OFTEC is encouraging consumers to upgrade appliances to high efficiency technology – around 75% of the one million oil boilers in the UK are likely to be standard efficiency ones.

Decarbonising heat – are hybrid heating systems a better way forward?

Jon Slowe of the Delta Energy and Environment consultancy considered options to decarbonise heat up to 2050. Based on an authoritative study done for the Energy Networks Association in late 2012, he concluded that trying to completely decarbonise heat by 2050 is expensive and wasteful and that an alternative option of encouraging hybrid heating systems could be a better way forward.

OFTEC’s technical director Paul Rose outlined the possibilities and advantages offered for rural homes by hybrid home heating systems – such as combining an oil boiler and an air source heat pump. He described the many advantages that such systems can offer in terms of convenience, carbon savings and ease of installation, particularly to the retrofit market. Fully integrated systems using multiple energy sources are already available in the gas sector, Paul expects similar to be commercially available for oil heating in the near future.

Thoughts of the new OFTEC chairman

Speaking on his appointment as OFTEC chairman for 2013-15, Martyn Bridges, Worcester, Bosch Group’s director of marketing and technical support, said “In my experience, there’ve been instances where oil heating has not advanced at the same pace as that of gas, which I believe now creates an opportunity for me to help to bring certain approaches from the gas sector to the oil sector.”