OFTEC annual conference – mapping out pathways towards decarbonisation

Decarbonisation was a key theme of OFTEC’s 2018 annual conference in June, which informed members and guests on the opportunities to reduce emissions from rural homes in support of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.
During the event, OFTEC’s CEO, Paul Rose, provided an overview of the current situation and reported on progress made since the launch of OFTEC’s two stage strategy to decarbonise off-grid homes 12 months earlier.
OFTEC plans focus on an incentivised programme to upgrade the 400,000 old, inefficient oil boilers still in use across England and Wales. This would provide immediate carbon reduction wins of up to 20% per household and pave the way for a low carbon liquid fuel as soon as it becomes available. OFTEC has lobbied MPs, policy makers and other stakeholders to explain the advantages of this approach and highlight the practical difficulties and potential cost to rural consumers of other decarbonisation options.

Industry contact group

To share information and coordinate progress, an industry contact group, co-led by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and OFTEC, has been set up and two meetings have taken place. OFTEC, in partnership with leading manufacturers, has also begun performance tests on various low carbon liquid fuel blends and a 100% biofuel, with highly positive results.
Commenting on the current position, OFTEC CEO Paul Rose, said: “The climate change challenge is one we all need to address. OFTEC fully supports government’s decarbonisation ambitions and our industry has an excellent track record on delivering innovation. Over the past year OFTEC has been working hard to progress a low carbon liquid fuel solution, which offers a more practical alternative for off-grid homes than the other options currently on the table.
“Now is the time for our industry to unite, step up and act collectively to meet the significant opportunity decarbonisation brings. This means everyone from installers and manufacturers to fuel suppliers and refiners playing their part. We need to keep this positive momentum going and deliver a futureproof solution that works for consumers and government alike.”

“400,000 old, inefficient oil boilers still in use across England and Wales”

OFTEC was joined at the conference by guest speaker Richard Vianello, renewable heat incentive and heat in buildings deputy director at BEIS. Richard provided a summary of current government thinking on heat policy including the recent ‘call for evidence’ on the Future Framework for Heat in Buildings, to which OFTEC submitted a detailed response.
Dr Ernst-Moritz Bellingen, energy policy director of the German Institute for Heating and Oil Technology (IWO) provided an overview of the positive developments in low carbon liquid fuel production.

Renewable heating solution

Guests then heard from Andrew Robertson, co-founder of Clean Energy Consultancy Ltd who was involved in OFTEC’s successful biofuel project (2008-2011) which delivered a 30% renewable liquid fuel called B30K. Andrew talked through the customer journey when opting for renewable heating solutions such as heat pumps and biomass, highlighting the potential barriers to take up in a retrofit situation whilst emphasising the benefits of switching to a low carbon liquid fuel.
OFTEC chairman, Niall Fay of Grant Engineering, concluded: “The journey to provide decarbonisation solutions continues. Heat pumps have been promoted by many as the answer to low carbon heating for off-grid homes. However, the poor thermal efficiency of rural homes and the widely evidenced failure of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) highlights the practical difficulties and prohibitive cost of retrofitting these technologies.
“More cost-effective options must be found and this means a crucial role for low carbon liquid fuels going forward. By drawing together the strengths of our innovative industry, I am confident we will be able to produce an alternative fuel to power off-grid boilers well into the future.”