FPS Response to Irish Government’s Climate Plan

20th June 2019

Trade association to the liquid fuels distribution industry across Ireland, FPS, is disappointed and frustrated that liquid bio/efuels for home heating are not part of the Government Climate Plan To Tackle Climate Breakdown document released on Monday by the Irish Government.

FPS submitted detailed information to the Government’s National Energy Climate Plan (NECP) earlier this year, but the conclusions drawn in this latest document highlights the Irish Government’s continued focus on the electrification of heat using heat pumps for those households currently off the mains grid.

FPS Chief Executive Guy Pulham comments: “We support Ireland’s planned transition to low carbon heat. Our Members are committed to playing an active role in helping the Government achieve its goals in the sector that we are active in, delivering heating oil to 686,000 households, mainly in rural and off-grid homes. However, we must ensure that consumers are able to make the right choices for their house, based on the right information, at the right time.

“We are disappointed that in the document it mentions the use of biofuels for industry and transport but no mention of biofuels for heat in homes so our question to Government is why not consider this as a solution for home heating.”

“Having just launched our Clean Growth Future Vision for the Liquid fuels distribution industry, which highlights the role liquid fuel can play as part of the Republic of Ireland’s diverse future energy mix to meet the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, it is particularly disappointing that the Government are still focused on heat pumps to replace oil.

“Our Future Vision highlights what we believe is a practical, affordable and effective solution which addresses key Government requirements: to keep energy bills low; cost effectively reduce carbon emissions; ensure a secure, resilient energy supply; bring economic benefits and avoid unreasonable upfront costs for consumers.

“The Government’s latest announcements will not provide a complete solution and does not consider several recent developments in Europe which highlight how liquid fuels, whether that is a biofuel or an efuel, can be part of the solution. There is a need for a mix of low-emission energy sources and technologies to be deployed to meet the requirements of different buildings, dependent on their potential thermal efficiency.”

Nick Hayes FPS Representative in Ireland adds: “It is also important to understand the very specific nature of the housing stock that our FPS members service with heating oil – generally larger, older homes, in rural locations with poorer than average insulation. This is an important factor as migration of these types of houses over to electrification, regardless of which sort, is very much at the “very hard” and “very expensive” end of the spectrum. Ireland’s housing stock has been identified as being amongst the least energy efficient in Northern Europe, therefore, energy consumption in the domestic sector is greater than necessary. Regulations governing the energy efficiency of new dwellings were not introduced in the Republic of Ireland until 1979. 50% of the current housing stock was constructed prior to 1979 and it was not until 2006 that significant thermal retrofits were introduced. Hence most houses in Ireland are considered to be thermally substandard.

“More recently, in a study commissioned by trade association OFTEC with Dr Patrick Waterfield BSc, MSc, DPhil, CEng, FEI in April 2018 showed that over 90% of off grid homes in the Republic of Ireland were below BER rating C1 and in his opinion, not suitable for heat pump use. Design of these houses is such that retrofitting Heat Pumps will require a huge capital expenditure to improve the insulation of the properties. If this work is not carried out, the running costs of any form of heat pump would be prohibitive.

“The social implications for having a dependence on one technology are also important and should not be understated. With 400,000 households in Ireland in fuel poverty, removing oil and not considering a stepped change approach in strategy will directly affect those people most in need.”

Guy Pulham concludes: “We say again, the FPS and its members feel strongly that a liquid low carbon fuel, can be part of the phased solution for Ireland’s Climate Plan and would again urge the Government to consult with trade associations and businesses operating in the heating oil and fuel distribution sector on the work that is already being undertaken to develop a liquid low carbon fuel.

“The Government talks about 2026 for change in regulation and this timing fits with the development and trials being done in Europe and the UK with bio fuels and a number of newer technologies (such as synthesised fuels) plus paraffinic products and liquid fuels (made from a wide range of feedstocks including GTL and HVO) which are already starting to enter our marketplace.

“Liquid fuels can definitely be part of the solution for the future of off-grid heating, be that as a bio liquid or efuel. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) say in the report they want to support projects to develop new zero carbon heating projects so we are calling on them and the Government to support the further development of liquid bio fuels for home heating.”

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