Industry professionals debate heating strategies

According to the results of a poll held at OFTEC’s annual conference last month, over three-quarters of those questioned were looking towards hybrid heating systems, with oil working in tandem with renewable technologies.

A further 16% said a shift to bio-liquid fuels such as OFTEC’s B30K, a blend of 30% FAME and 70% kerosene, would be a likely move.

Almost three quarters of the heating industry professionals who attended also think the government’s 2050 Heat Strategy is unrealistic.

The survey of more than 50 industry leaders, manufacturers and technicians found that 70% felt DECC’s Heat Strategy, published earlier this year, would result in less than half of the UK domestic heating market coming from renewable sources by 2050. It will also fall far short of its target to achieve an 80% reduction in UK carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

A further 67% of those polled said the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme in its current form is the wrong vehicle to move UK homes to renewable heat. An overwhelming 98% also said heat pumps were not a realistic alternative to oil-fired boilers for retrofit properties without significant – and costly – upgrades to insulation and controls.

Commenting on the results, OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley said: “Cynically you could say that an audience with a keen interest in oil would take the opportunity to knock the government’s Heat Strategy and renewable technologies.

“However, OFTEC members fully support the UK’s transition to low carbon heat and recognise the increasing role domestic renewable heating technologies will play in the longer term. That’s why OFTEC has launched registrations and MCS certification for heat pumps and solar thermal systems, with biomass to follow later this year.

OFTEC has again called for a more pragmatic approach and continues to lobby for an alternative approach, including a simple boiler scrappage scheme. With sales of new oil condensing boilers so far this year up 9% on 2014 levels, there is clearly a strong demand and an opportunity to make considerable carbon savings.

Heating industry professionals favour ‘a more gradual stepped approach to low carbon heating which would be far more palatable for consumers’ says Jeremy Hawksley with hybrid systems and bio-fuels representing a more affordable, half-way house solution for many.