Industry welcomes inclusion of oil in ECO3

The announcement in July from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that oil boilers will not be totally excluded from the next phase of the Energy Company Obligation scheme (ECO3) has been widely welcomed by the oil heating sector and fuel poverty campaigners.

The decision follows responses by OFTEC and other stakeholders to the ECO3 consultation underlining that removing oil boilers from the scheme would unfairly discriminate against rural households and could lead to even higher levels of fuel poverty.

The new ECO3 legislation, which comes into force on 1 October 2018, will allow limited oil boiler delivery to take place within the broken heating system cap and will also allow the repair of broken oil boilers within the 5% cap for all boiler repairs. This limit only applies to broken boilers not First Time Central Heating (FTCH). Oil boilers will not be allowed under first time central heating (FTCH), district heating, solid walled homes minimum, rural minimum, inefficient heating system replacements or innovation measures.

OFTEC CEO Paul Rose commented: “This is an important win for low income and vulnerable off-grid households. As the key objective of ECO is to provide affordable warmth and help address fuel poverty, it would have been completely contradictory to exclude the repair or replacement of broken oil appliances when oil heating continues to be the cheapest form of heating available to off-grid households”.

“This is an important win for low income and vulnerable off-grid households”

The original proposal to remove oil boilers from ECO3 was to align the scheme with the aims of the Clean Growth Strategy, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions. However, while the strategy includes a pledge to end the use of high carbon fossil fuels, decisions on how decarbonisation will be achieved are far from finalised, so many felt that the move to align ECO was premature. Commentators, including OFTEC, argue that rather than focus on appliances, it makes more sense to decarbonise the fuel.

Paul Rose continued: “We fully support the Clean Growth Strategy vision to phase out carbon intensive fuels from 2020 and believe the best way to achieve this for off-grid homes is the introduction of a low carbon liquid fuel alternative to oil which initial testing indicates, could run on existing oil boilers without modification.
“While the decision to partially retain oil boilers is good news for the industry, concern remains about how ECO is implemented and, in particular, the quality of the actual installations. OFTEC is committed to ensuring that high standards are achieved, and we will be monitoring the situation closely”.

“OFTEC is committed to ensuring that high standards are achieved, and we will be monitoring the situation closely”

Stuart Clements, director at HHIC has also commented on the government announcements saying that: “We are particularly pleased that the government have accepted the HHIC view that it is too early to insist that all new installations are accredited by the Each Home Counts review, especially as it is not actually up and running, nor have the requirements been agreed. We are pleased that the new ECO scheme will be launched without requiring Each Home Counts compliance.
“We look forward to working with BEIS and the industry on delivering this new ECO scheme.”