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Government cannot afford to repeat off-grid heat decarbonisation policy mistakes, MPs warned


3 min read Partner content

Consumer choice and affordable low carbon options must be a priority for rural homes or vital net zero targets could be missed, OFTEC will warn MPs at the 2020 Labour and Conservative Party Conferences.

The trade association is hosting virtual fringe events to engage directly on the right course for off-grid heat decarbonisation policy during ‘Labour Connected’ on Monday 21 September at 5pm and the Conservative Party Conference on Sunday 4 October at 3pm.

Both sessions will see OFTEC joined by a panel of high profile speakers to discuss the steps needed to secure an affordable, fair transition to low carbon heat for all - including the UK’s 1.53 million oil heated households who are in danger of being left in the cold by current policy thinking.

OFTEC’s head of communications Malcolm Farrow, who will be speaking at the fringe events, alongside others including Shadow BEIS Minister Alan Whitehead, said: “This is a crucial time in the formation of heat policy and it’s vital government does not repeat the same mistakes.

“Despite six years of subsidy through the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, heat pumps - the recommended solution for rural homes - remain financially and practically out of reach for most, with just 1% of oil heated households installing these technologies via the scheme.

“Many rural properties are older and poorly insulated which makes them unsuitable for heat pumps without significant investment. Off-grid households are also more likely to have lower incomes, little or no savings and suffer deeper levels of fuel poverty, so are among those most in need of low carbon heating solutions they can afford to implement.”

OFTEC says that failing to support the right decarbonisation solutions now would be a recipe for disaster and government must ensure that more affordable, practical options such as renewable liquid fuels are available for off-grid homes.

Trials in homes across Europe, alongside UK industry testing, show that a low carbon biofuel called Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) offers a simple near drop-in replacement for heating oil. Crucially, this fossil free, sustainable liquid fuel has the potential to deliver the highest carbon reduction levels of all other low carbon heating technologies on the market today.

HVO is already available across the UK and global supply is increasing fast. With the right policy support, UK industry could convert existing infrastructure to begin domestic production and deploy the fuel to meet the heating requirements of many rural homes, well within the net zero timeframes.

Malcolm Farrow concludes: “The window of opportunity for policy change is closing and it’s crucial the chance to secure an affordable low carbon option for rural households is not missed. This is a wake up call. A fresh approach is needed and renewable liquid fuels must be part of the UK’s net zero strategy.”

Other speakers joining OFTEC and Alan Whitehead MP at the Labour fringe event include Director of Policy and Research at National Energy Action (NEA), Peter Smith.

OFTEC’s Conservative Party event panel includes Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action and Guy Newey, Strategy and Performance Director at Energy Catapult Systems.

For further information on renewable liquid fuels for off-grid heating, click here


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