Fossil fuel transition to lower carbon…
A few delegates were surprised to hear speakers representing the fossil fuel industries at Low Carbon Homes. I invited representatives from the oil and LPG industries, as I thought it would be helpful to hear about their plans to help the UK transition to low carbon energy. Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC emphasised the importance of ensuring a secure energy supply for the UK, recognising the need to decarbonise, while keeping costs down for consumers.
With many off-gas homes reliant on oil as a fuel, Malcolm described the “rural home challenge” – only 12% of off-gas rural homes are in EPC A-C bands. 8 million homes have solid walls, with rural homes performing worse than urban/suburban. 14% of rural households are in fuel poverty, compared with 10% in urban areas. 90% of retrofit boiler installations are a distressed purchase. The RHI scheme failed to deliver change – only 60,000 installations achieved for the £23bn cost.
Malcolm explained that OFTEC is in discussions with government about the future of liquid fuel and has established a number of policy recommendations – decarbonisation must not impose unreasonable costs to consumers; no one-size-fits-all solution to the rural home challenge; upfront incentives and low-cost finance options should be provided; create a low carbon heating marketplace to drive down costs; low carbon liquid fuels should be accepted as an alternative to existing tech; meaningful engagement with installers is essential.
Low carbon liquid fuels (bio-fuels) are being developed which OFTEC and industry have successfully trialled. Malcolm explained that these will bring many benefits including: keeping costs low for consumer; retaining existing UK manufacturing, supply, installation and service resources; reducing need for huge early investment in electrification; a final solution for some, a stepping stone for others; possibility of hybrid systems.
In wrapping up, Malcolm re-emphasised the importance OFTEC places on the role of the engineers and fuel distributors in potentially becoming energy efficiency and low carbon champions, influencing consumers and helping them navigate the transition to low carbon.