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Oil-fired sector under threat as govt backs renewables

The heating oil industry is under pressure from local and central Government policies which promote the replacement of existing oil systems with renewables and low carbon technologies in off-gas areas.

Jeremy Hawksley, chief executive of the Oil Firing Technical Association (Oftec), said: “This is a threat as there is so much noise from the Government about renewables. We are in discussions with the Government regarding the potential of liquid biofuels to replace kerosene, hopefully within the next two years.

“We are seeing biomass, wind, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps being promoted, but all these technologies on a domestic scale are capital-intensive. We are trying to develop an alternative which can work with the existing boiler systems.”

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has commissioned Dodd Group to install seven air source heat pumps in its properties after introducing a policy that oil-based systems in off-gas rural properties cannot be replaced by new oil based heating systems.

Technical director David Frowde said: “If we are putting a new heating system in our policy is not to install oil any more.

“One of our concerns is fuel poverty – particularly with the minimum oil delivery our tenants can get and the fact there is a big lump sum at the beginning. We have had situations where residents have had a relatively new installation, but they have not wanted or been unable to use it.”

Neighbouring Waveney Borough Council is also trialling air source heat pumps in seven off-gas properties.

John Walchester, partnering and contracts officer, said: “We have gone for air source heat pumps due to fuel poverty issues. There are also green issues as well, as we are trying to improve our carbon footprint.

“We have got an open mind on heating oil and will look at the issues again, but the main problems in the past have been running costs and the siting of tanks.”