OFTEC has welcomed a positive response from the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, Claire Perry MP, after its concerns over the viability of government plans to decarbonise heating in England.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) plans, outlined in the Clean Growth Strategy published last year, propose a preference for moving rural households currently using oil heating to electrically-driven heat pumps as an early phase of efforts to cut carbon emissions from the heating sector.

However, in a reply to a letter from OFTEC, Claire Perry indicated that BEIS was still willing to consider other decarbonisation options and expected “to see a mix of technologies into the future”.

OFTEC’s letter summarised the trade association’s concerns about government plans for decarbonising off-grid heat and made a strong case for other possibilities to be considered.

OFTEC believes BEIS’ plans are:

  • Ill-considered – because the heat solution proposed (heat pumps) is expensive and difficult to implement in many existing rural homes
  • Unfair – because it unreasonably imposes a financial burden on oil-using rural homeowners
  • Anti-competitive – it is not for government to stipulate how consumers heat their homes, nor to compel them to purchase a particular energy source
  • Premature – because appropriate solutions for off-grid homes are not yet available
  • Inconsistent – because heating emissions from other high carbon fuels such as natural gas, LPG, and one-to-one electricity are not being targeted.

OFTEC CEO Paul Rose cautiously welcomed the letter: “I’m pleased that BEIS appears willing to consider other options. OFTEC was particularly concerned that government had already decided on its preferred solution for decarbonising England’s 850,000 oil-using homes without fully considering the practicalities and impact on homeowners - or the other options available.

“BEIS’ plans fail to address the reality of the situation. While suitable for some, electrification is currently not a practical heating solution for many rural homes without wholesale and expensive energy efficiency improvements.”