OFTEC has welcomed a positive response from the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, Claire Perry MP, after putting forward strong concerns over the viability of government plans to decarbonise heating from the 850,000 oil using homes in England.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) plans, outlined in the ‘Clean Growth Strategy’ published last year, propose a preference for moving rural households currently using oil heating to electrically driven heat pumps as an early phase of efforts to cut carbon emissions from the heating sector.
However, in a reply to a letter from OFTEC, Claire Perry indicated that BEIS was still willing to consider other decarbonisation options and expected ‘to see a mix of technologies into the future’.
OFTEC’s letter summarised the trade association’s concerns about government plans for decarbonising off-grid heat and made a strong case for other possibilities to be considered. Drawing on extensive knowledge of the off-grid heating sector, OFTEC believes BEIS’ plans are:
- Ill-considered – because the heat solution proposed (heat pumps) is expensive and difficult to implement in many existing rural homes;
- Unfair – because it unreasonably imposes a financial burden on oil-using rural homeowners;
- Anti-competitive – it is not for Government to stipulate how consumers heat their homes, nor to compel them to purchase a particular energy source;
- Premature – because appropriate solutions for off-grid homes are not yet available and;
- Inconsistent – because heating emissions from other high carbon fuels such as natural gas, LPG, and one-to-one electricity are not being targeted.
OFTEC CEO Paul Rose cautiously welcomed the letter: “I’m pleased that BEIS appears willing to consider other options. OFTEC was particularly concerned that Government had already decided on its preferred solution for decarbonising England’s 850,000 oil-using homes without fully considering the practicalities and impact on homeowners – or the other options available.
“BEIS’ plans fail to address the reality of the situation. While suitable for some, electrification is currently not a practical heating solution for many rural homes without wholesale and expensive energy efficiency improvements.
“Proceeding with this expensive approach could have serious financial implications for many families without considerable government support to help the majority of homeowners meet the substantial installation costs of heat pumps or improve insulation standards.
“This becomes even more of an issue when you consider the higher proportion of rural households currently living in fuel poverty compared to urban areas*. How are these families who are already struggling to make ends meet expected to find the money to fund an expensive new renewable heating system?
“We fear this would in turn, further increase the already scandalously high number of elderly and vulnerable people who die each winter because they can’t afford to keep warm.
“Decarbonising the off-gas grid heating sector is a must – but it can’t be at the expense of people’s health or their financial well-being. We were therefore pleased to receive a constructive response from the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry.”