Revised Climate Action Plan must support a switch to affordable, clean, lower carbon alternatives like LPG and BioLPG, to secure buy-in from rural Ireland
A ‘just transition’ to accessible and affordable low carbon energy will be critical to over 500,000 off-grid rural homes playing a role in Ireland’s decarbonisation journey. That is according to Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI), the trade association for the LPG industry, in response to a call for expert evidence on the Climate Action Plan 2021 by the Department of Environment, Climate Action and Communications.
In its submission, LGI outlines the need for:
- A ‘mixed technology’ approach to decarbonisation to include LPG and BioLPG.
- Recognition of the carbon savings available by switching from oil to lower carbon LPG and BioLPG, in addition to hybrid heating systems (HHS).
- A reversal of the proposed ban on gas boilers so as not to restrict a seamless transition from lower carbon LPG to renewable gas BioLPG.
- An extension of Government energy efficiency schemes to incentivise rural consumers to make a switch from oil boilers to an affordable LPG / BioLPG alternative.
Commenting, Chair of LGI Brian Derham said: “Government policy must support cost-efficient deliverables for rural Ireland such as fuel switching and upgrading to modern, high-efficiency appliances, which are futureproofed and ready for ‘drop-in’ solutions. LPG boilers offer a long-term, cost effective pathway to decarbonisation through the gradual introduction of BioLPG meaning that over time, carbon emissions will increasingly reduce.
“BioLPG as a drop-in fuel, delivers up to 90 per cent EU certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional fossil fuels, making it carbon tax exempt. This would present an affordable, reliable, and sustainable option to rural consumers for decarbonising hard-to-treat buildings and industrial processes requiring high temperatures. A gas boiler ban would prohibit the upgrade path to BioLPG and future hydrogen consumption.
“If the Government is serious about achieving Ireland’s climate targets, it is crucial that both urban and rural communities are brought on the decarbonisation journey. This can be done by providing them with technology choices that meet their unique needs through secure, clean, and efficient lower-carbon fuels like LPG and BioLPG, leading to a fairer transition while significantly reducing CO2 emissions and providing an immediate, lasting impact on regional air quality in Ireland.”
LGI estimates that if these 500,000 homes switched from using oil-fired central heating to BioLPG by 2040, it would save about 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. The association has called for policy incentives to support consumers to switch from oil to LPG and BioLPG and for inclusion in the current renewable heat scheme for business (SSRH).
Mr Derham added: “The revised Climate Action Plan is a significant opportunity for Government to correct its ‘one size fits all’ approach so far to decarbonisation, which has presented a huge challenge for those living in rural communities. Under the current Climate Action Plan, it is envisaged that existing homes will undergo retrofitting to accommodate heat pump technology at a cost of €35,000 - €60,000, depending on size.
“This approach does not consider the unique economic and infrastructural challenges of rural Ireland, where over 500,000 homes have no connection to the natural gas distribution network and two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel. Of these homes, 25 per cent are classified as hard-to-treat houses meaning the cost of a retrofit would be 80 per cent more expensive. Connecting remote, less energy-efficient properties to the natural gas grid or installing new heat pump technology is proving prohibitively expensive, as demonstrated by the continued low uptake of retrofitting grants outside urban centres.”
Renewable Energy Ireland recently launched its 40by30 Renewable Heat Plan which sets out a roadmap where 40 per cent of Ireland’s heat can come from renewables by 2030 in line with Government CO2 targets. The plan outlines how there is no single solution to decarbonising heating systems and acknowledged the important role renewable gas like BioLPG should play, alongside other renewable heat technologies.
Concluding on LGI’s drive to improve air quality, Mr Derham said: “LPG and BioLPG produce virtually no black carbon and very low levels of air and particulate pollutant emissions, meaning a switch from oil would significantly improve air quality in our rural communities. As BioLPG becomes increasingly available to the market in Ireland, LGI wants to continue to work in partnership with the Government to drive consumer behaviour in rural areas towards cleaner, more efficient, lower carbon solutions. It is the industry’s ambition to transition to 100 per cent BioLPG by 2040 and in doing so can dramatically help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality across Ireland.”