Ken’s Corner: why change for the sake of change is not the change we need

The UK Prime Minister has announced that the general election will take place in the second half of next year, and the jury is still out in Ireland. While some may find my interest in politics obsessive, it is a crucial year for both the UK and Ireland.

Ken Cronin

Evidence and data

Unfortunately, we will be bombarded with claims and counterclaims throughout the year, which leads me to my other obsession: evidence and data. In this latest edition of Fuel Oil News, UKIFDA has published its quarterly data analysis as part of the Downstream collaboration.

What has surprised me (not a lot) is that the data reveals a significant 2,447 ktoe fall (62%) in red diesel consumption but an increase of 2,160 ktoe in white diesel sales to industry and other final users. Thus, there has been no significant change regarding emissions.

This illustrates that the Government’s attempt to bring about change has been unsuccessful. Consequently, this initiative has incurred significant costs to industry, which inevitably affects the general public in terms of finished goods and services. The initiative has been unsuccessful primarily because the cost of the alternative is either higher in pure terms and/or taxed the same as the fossil fuel, therefore providing little or no incentive to change.

Positive change

As an industry, we are submitting a request to the chancellor that, on March 6th, he remove the duty on HVO, and we are also advocating for a renewable liquid heating fuel obligation and pressing the government to get on with the consultation they promised last year. This is our effort to bring positive change while providing consumers with affordable prices and meeting carbon budgets.

I recently read that Scandinavian countries have a better rate than us when it comes to heat pump installation, proving that they work in colder climates. I’m sure you’ll agree that heat pumps in well insulated homes have a better chance of working and providing comfort to the householder.

However, building regulations and wood consumption in Finland differ significantly from those in the UK. Wood consumption in Finland has remained the same for home heating since 2019 – primarily because it is used as a secondary heating source in many homes. Indeed, nearly a quarter of detached homes in Finland still use wood as the main heat source (all of this ignores wood as a source of heat for saunas, which are still very popular!). Therefore, should we advocate the installation of wood burners in the colder parts of the UK?

Yes, this is a throwaway line, but data, facts and evidence are important, and they are crucial in helping us help the government find the right solution to decarbonise the off-grid communities we serve.

EXPO incoming

As we turn into February, I am getting increasingly excited about meeting everyone at EXPO in April; there is much to discuss and learn. 

The theme of working together in changing times could not be more appropriate. We have invited back some familiar faces and will announce the conference schedule soon. I’m pleased that the underlying spirit of meeting people, chatting about old times, and discussing future scenarios will remain familiar and unchanged.

 …. and I’m certain that the topic of data usage and politics will also be discussed.