OFTEC reinforced the key role of the fossil fuel heating industry in transitioning homes to a low carbon future at a series of events held across the UK, aimed at tackling energy efficiency, cutting carbon emissions and reducing fuel poverty in the domestic housing sector.
The Low Carbon Homes forums brought together hundreds of architects, engineers, landlords, housing consultants and local authority attendees, to discuss the priority issues and showcase a range of carbon reduction and energy efficiency solutions which could be deployed across the sector.
As one of a number of specialists speaking at the events, OFTEC’s Head of Communications, Malcolm Farrow, emphasised the need for all sectors of the heating industry – including the existing fossil fuel sector - to play their part in reducing emissions. Far from being the enemy, Malcolm argued that harnessing the expertise and capability of the oil and gas sector was critical in taking decisive action quickly - and that this was a challenge they were only-too-ready to accept.
In a talk that focussed particularly on the difficulties and opportunities presented by oil-heated homes, Malcolm highlighted the vital need to consider the capacity and willingness of consumers to take action. He pointed out that, as most future gains in energy efficiency and carbon reduction will require people to make changes to their homes, consumer buy-in would be paramount and low-cost options were essential.
This suggests that biofuels could make a significant contribution towards progress in the difficult to treat rural heating sector.
Commenting during the events, Malcolm Farrow said: “The climate change goal posts have already moved and we now know quicker and deeper action will need to be taken to fulfil the new recommended ambition of net zero emissions by 2050. This is going to require everyone to step up and play their part. However, asking people to make considerable changes to their own homes and to spend money to do that is a challenge we need to overcome.
“That’s why, given the pressures on household budgets - particularly for those on lower incomes - and higher rates of fuel poverty in rural locations, we must ensure the transition to low carbon heat is fair, practical and as affordable as possible.”
As part of OFTEC’s work to support the carbon reduction agenda, the trade association has commissioned in-depth, independent research into the oil heating sector today and the options available for decarbonising heat from these homes.
The results of the study are in the process of verification and will be officially released later this year. However, initial findings clearly show that improving the energy efficiency of as many off-grid homes as practically possible, while transitioning these households to a low carbon liquid fuel alternative, may offer the most effective solution for consumers and government alike to the carbon reduction challenge.
Malcolm Farrow continues: “For any solution to succeed, it’s important to understand and account for the particular challenges the off-grid sector present, such as the high proportion of older, poorly insulated homes which inevitably ‘leak’ heat. We must also consider the needs of consumers and limit adverse impacts such as high cost and significant upheaval. This has been an essential missing ingredient in heat decarbonisation strategies to date.
“The research confirms OFTEC’s long held view that transitioning rural properties to a low carbon liquid fuel offers the most cost effective, practical and futureproof solution going forward. The next step is to continue our conversations and work with industry and government to ensure this compelling solution is brought to market.”
The Low Carbon Homes forums were organised by Cogent Events and held in Brighton, Ipswich and Wimborne Minster, Dorset, with a final event taking place in Manchester in the autumn.