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Heat pump maker rejects oil body's charges, saying cost and emissions make it better for off-grid

Kensa MD Simon Lomax labels OFTEC’s ‘inaccurate and biased’ stance on off-grid heating options

The MD of British heat pump manufacturer Kensa has summarily dismissed the charges from the oil industry body OFTEC that the technology is a less appropriate solution for off-grid households than oil.

Simon Lomax dismissed the stance from OFTEC as inaccurate and biased in a response to the article , which was published online at H&V News.

Mr Lomax said: ”The suggestion by Paul Rose of 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 an article 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 kWh per litre and a generous oil boiler efficiency of 80 per cent, 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 per cent for a ground source heat pump. Far from being the cheapest option, [this means] heat from an oil boiler costs 21 per cent more.

Mr Lomax added that further savings can be gained via the use of heat pumps. “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.”

He contended that given the significantly higher oil emissions, the continued use of oil was near-sighted:

“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 Lomax concluded with a challenge of his own to the oil industry: ”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.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • hard to add more than Simon already has other than to say that the real challenge is not to offer a better outcome than oil in the countryside but better than gas in the cities.

    this will define our success or failure to provide an outcome our children will be proud of..........and it absolutely will include consideration of air pollution. gas is a dirty fuel by comparison to a heat pump - of course oil being even worse!

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  • "Sorry kids and Grandkids. we were so inconsiderate and tight we decided to burn oil and ruin the climate beyond repair" or that seems to be what OFTEC would say.

    Agree with Simon Lomax: the oil industry has some very big questions to answer re climate change.

    As Rose says ECO 3 is there to help those less able to pay and it would be easy to support this further for the sake of low carbon solutions for future generations rather than continue to install 100,000's of oil boilers in the hope that a suitably low carbon low cost bio oil will be viable.

    A similar argument (economics) was used by UK manufacturers of land mines- hey ho

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