Time for open debate on off grid heat decarbonisation, says OFTEC

Malcolm Farrow
Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC

Any consultation arising from the Government’s long anticipated Heat in Buildings strategy must allow a genuine discussion on all the options to decarbonise rural homes, otherwise thousands of households could suffer severe financial consequences, warns OFTEC.

Up until now, government has given out mixed messages on its approach to cutting emissions from off grid heat, using the term ‘technology neutral’ whilst only supporting a narrow choice of technology options, primarily heat pumps and biomass boilers.

These solutions work well in some settings and heat pumps, in particular, will play an important role in the UK’s transition to net zero. But they are expensive to install and not the right option for all properties, including many energy inefficient off-grid homes without very costly and disruptive insulation improvements.

Head of Public Affairs at OFTEC, Malcolm Farrow, comments: “What we don’t want to see – and what rural consumers can’t afford to happen – is that the Buildings and Heat consultation, through its line of questioning, makes it impossible to bring the full range of low carbon heating options into the discussion.

“If the Government is serious about making rapid – and socially fair – progress, it must widen its perspective and adopt a truly technology neutral approach. This is the only way to encourage competition, improve consumer choice and ensure practical options are available for all housing types and incomes.

“Failing to achieve this could be disastrous for rural households as many will face a completely unaffordable financial burden. As well as causing great social harm, it could also rapidly erode support for decarbonisation and will further delay progress.”

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