While there is much that is positive about the new Climate Action Plan (CAP), it has too narrow a focus in addressing the energy needs of homes and businesses in rural Ireland. That’s according to Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI), expressing concern around the lack of viable options for homes and businesses located off the natural gas distribution network.
The association represents companies operating in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and BioLPG industry in Ireland. Responding to the updated CAP published by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, LGI outlined that there is insufficient recognition of the role of alternative fuels, including LPG and BioLPG, in meeting the energy needs of rural Ireland, while significantly lowering carbon emissions.
Commenting LGI Policy Director, Philip Hannon said: “The ‘one size fits all’ approach which prioritises the installation of heat pumps above all else is straightjacketing the options open to rural dwellers as they move to decarbonise. While the environmental impact of heat pumps are obvious, a sole focus on this as a pathway to decarbonisation is a blunt instrument and not a good fit for rural Ireland.
“LGI strongly argues that a mixed technology approach, using LPG and BioLPG along with improved building energy efficiency measures, is a more effective and fairer way to achieve moving rural homes and businesses away from oil and solid fuels to lower carbon emitting options. Not only is this a cheaper option to install, it will also improve energy efficiency and air quality.”
Mr Hannon added: “We know for example that heat pump installation coupled with the necessary deep retrofitting required to achieve an energy efficiency upgrade could cost more than €60,000 according to the SEAI. By comparison, new renewable gas ready boiler and associated environmental upgrades can be installed at a fraction of the cost.
“CAP 23 is a significant step forward in terms of Ireland meeting its climate targets. It misses the mark however in terms of its consideration of energy options for older homes, half a million of which have no connection to the natural gas distribution network, and two-thirds of these currently rely on oil boilers for heating. Connecting these properties to the natural gas grid or installing new heat pump technology simply isn’t a financially or logistically viable option for most families,” Mr Hannon concluded.
LGI argues that switching to a renewable gas ready boiler is easy and affordable, with immediate environmental benefits. By adopting a mixed technology approach to decarbonisation, Ireland’s transition to lower carbon and efficient heating sources can be accelerated, while keeping people warm in their homes.