OFTEC gives cautious welcome to Irish Government's 2020 budget but calls for urgent support on biofuels


OFTEC Ireland, the organisation that represents the liquid fuel heating industry, has given a cautious welcome to the Irish Government's decision to increase carbon tax by €6/tonne of CO2 announced in today's 2020 budget. However, it is calling for Government's support on the introduction of biofuels in the home heating sector as a more effective response to climate change concerns.

While the tax increase is one of several moves to reduce carbon emissions across Ireland, OFTEC believes the increase is less than previously expected and will have a limited impact on household budgets given the competitive nature of this sector and currently reducing global oil prices. It also gives the liquid fuel industry time to refine its move to blended fuels, reducing the dependency on 100% fossil fuel currently being used in Ireland.

David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager, commented, "Over the past four years, oil has been on average cheaper than natural gas, coal and wood pellets. While any increase is not welcomed per say, this increase in carbon tax will add about €15 to a 900 litre fill and will have a limited impact on home heating householders as it is planned to be implemented after this winter's heating season."

The budget announcement comes at a time when OFTEC is urging the Irish Government to take a more realistic approach to reducing carbon emissions within the off grid home heating sector. OFTEC is asking Government to implement a plan that does not disadvantage poorer income families or those living in older homes in rural Ireland.

David added: "The Government's plan to install 600,000 heat pumps across Ireland by 2030 is very ambitious and in our opinion, not practical. They are not suitable for many homes, particularly older or poorly insulted houses in rural areas, and homeowners would have to spend
€15,000 to €60,000 on renovations to make them suitable to work with a heat pump. While the Government has indicated that grants will be available, we believe there is a simpler method of reducing emissions utilising existing equipment, decarbonising the fuel and at a minimal cost to the homeowner."

OFTEC Ireland's Vision document states that the introduction of a biofuel blend is a viable, affordable option and should be part of Ireland's future energy mix. The organisation recently met with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment (DCCAE) to promote this vision and welcomed the inclusion of a question on the potential introduction of the heat sector in the current biofuels obligation consultation.

Mr Blevings concluded, "Introducing biofuel would be a seamless transition for existing oil users and a simple option for Government to reduce carbon emissions, while also encouraging competition in the marketplace. There is still a place for liquid fuelled appliances in the modern Irish home. Customers using oil should still plan to upgrade boilers and tanks over twenty years of age with a new condensing appliance and a bunded tank. Modern burners are already biofuel friendly and we envisage consumers will be using a biofuel blend to heat their home by 2021, with the next generation of liquid fuels being introduced over the next ten years further reducing emissions."