The case for low carbon fuels

When it comes to heating their off-grid homes, “cost will remain the most crucial consideration for homeowners who want quick, affordable solutions” says Paul Rose
In decarbonising heat from rural homes, OFTEC has highlighted ‘a strong case’ for the use of low carbon liquid fuels.  The case was put forward in response to a call from BEIS for evidence as to the Future Framework for Heat in Buildings.
OFTEC’s submission focused on the introduction of reduced carbon liquid fuels as the most affordable and practical decarbonisation route for the 850,000 oil using homes in England and Wales.
“It is premature for government to consider regulating against oil heating when all liquid fuel boilers could be run on a low carbon alternative fuel before 2035,” said OFTEC CEO Paul Rose.
OFTEC’s response also highlights the harsh realities of decarbonising off-grid housing stock -over 70% of rural properties have unfilled cavity or solid walls (English Housing Survey 2015) making them difficult to treat without significant investment.
OFTEC’s stepped pathway to achieving zero emissions by 2050 includes:

  • the replacement of old, inefficient oil boilers with new high efficiency condensing models and energy efficiency controls via an incentivised scrappage scheme, providing immediate carbon wins
  • Financial support through ECO3 for fuel poor and low-income families to achieve the conversion
  • The roll out of a low carbon liquid fuel with an agreed incremental reduction in the carbon content over time
  • Ongoing industry innovation to develop the next generation of appliances to meet the highest standards for efficiency and emissions.

“A contact group has recently been established, providing a positive way for BEIS and industry to constructively work together and develop solutions,” added Paul.
“However, what is currently lacking is a clear commitment from government that low carbon liquid fuels will be an accepted part of policy going forward. Innovation funding should also be made available to aid the development of an alternative fuel in the same way that support has been allocated to explore hydrogen options.
“Without government support, most consumers simply can’t afford to improve their properties to EPC band C, the level at which renewable technologies such as heat pumps become a viable option. The installation cost of an air source heat pump is £6,000 (Energy Savings Trust 2018) whilst a high efficiency boiler is a far more palatable £2,000.
“Cost will remain the most crucial consideration for homeowners, and, with the majority of new installations made in distress purchase situations, consumers want quick, affordable solutions.
“The next step will be to work directly with policy makers to develop a road map for the future of off-grid heating with clear milestones agreed so that a planned schedule of financial investment, development, testing and deployment can be achieved.”