Oil boilers – no to scrappage scheme

Amber Rudd, secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is not prepared to support a boiler scrappage scheme, which, she says, ‘would only serve to undermine the long term strategy for the UK’.

In response to a letter sent to her by OFTEC chairman, Nick Hawkins, soon after she was appointed as the head of DECC, Ms Rudd said: “Regarding your proposal for a boiler scrappage scheme, I do understand your point about the efficiencies of modern oil condensing boilers and the effect this can have on fuel consumption and households should be made aware of and take the opportunity if they are choosing a new oil boiler to make these savings.

“The UK, however, is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and significant reductions throughout the interim period in our carbon budgets. This is a challenging goal. Of course, oil, like other fossil fuels, will continue to play a role in the UK’s energy mix in the short term, but if we are to achieve a reduction of this level then it is likely to require reducing emissions from buildings to near zero.

“To make the transition to a low carbon economy then we will need to change the way we heat our homes. This will mean lowering the energy demand across all the UK’s housing stock through better thermal efficiency, changing consumer behaviour as well as deploying low carbon and renewable heating alternatives.

“As you are aware, the primary vehicle for supporting the uptake of renewable heating systems is the Domestic Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI) which is targeted to homes that are off the gas grid, with the clear view that those without mains gas have the greatest challenge in making the switch and, depending on their current fuel, the greatest impact on carbon emissions.”

Ms Rudd concluded: “You will understand, therefore, why at a time when we need to focus public spending much more acutely on our objectives, I cannot support a boiler scrappage scheme, which would only serve to undermine the long term strategy for the UK.”

Ms Rudd’s letter to Nick Hawkins was written around two weeks before the government announced its proposal to slash the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV by as much as 87% from January 2016 – a move the solar industry has widely condemned.