Response to OFTEC comments on fuel poverty

Simon Lomax, MD of UK heat pump manufacturer Kensa, has responded to the comments issued by OFTEC CEO Paul Rose on the subject of fuel of poverty in rural areas:

“The suggestion by Paul Rose, the CEO of oil heating body OFTEC, that high carbon oil boilers should continue to be the favoured fuel heating solution for rural householders suffering from fuel poverty was based upon the wildly inaccurate claim that such a system offers ‘the cheapest fuel available to off-grid homes.’  It is a very odd statement to be included in a press release which begins boldly by proclaiming ‘let’s start with some facts.’

“Nonetheless, let’s do just that. According to Boilerjuice, the online oil purchasing portal, the average price of oil over the six month period to Dec 31 2018 was 53.7p per litre. If we assume an energy content of 10.4 kilowatt hours (kWh) per litre and a generous oil boiler efficiency of 80%, the cost of heat is 6.45p per kWh. By contrast, numerous suppliers offer electricity at less than 16p per kWh which means a heat cost of 5.33p per kWh if we assume a modest efficiency of 300% for a ground source heat pump. Far from being the cheapest option, heat from an oil boiler costs 21% more.

“Of course, the emergence of dynamic tariffs (which vary electricity charges depending upon the time of use) will permit further savings for the heat pump option as will the use of heat storage products, smart controls and, in some circumstances, battery storage. These technologies are all far more worthy of support via the Energy Company Obligation than the continued proliferation of oil boilers and their excessive carbon footprint. And it is certainly excessive.

“Using the carbon intensity factors proposed for SAP 10, an oil boiler emits almost five times as much carbon as a ground source heat pump so there is absolutely no justification for their continued use when far more appealing options are available (and sensibly supported by a Government who understands these facts). And we haven’t even talked about air quality. Mr Rose can come back to the table if synthetic oils ever emerge to reduce the carbon emissions but the harsh reality for his sector is that other technologies are making bigger strides forward and will offer more compelling choices for those in fuel poverty and beyond. Climate change was caused by oil: oil will not be the saviour.”

To view Paul Rose’s original comments, click here.

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