Government must adopt a ‘mixed technology’ approach to decarbonisation – Liquid Gas Ireland
A broader suite of lower carbon energy options should be urgently embraced by Government to encourage the large number of rural Irish households using kerosene oil to switch. That’s according to Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI), responding to a Department of Environment, Climate and Communications call for expert evidence on its Climate Action Plan 2024.
LGI argues that lower carbon LPG and renewable BioLPG offer a viable, more cost-effective pathway for consumers to reduce energy emissions, particularly those located in rural Ireland. The association is calling for a ‘mixed technology’ approach which offers more choice and supports a switch for households and businesses to lower carbon and renewable fuels. It is recommending that the Government expands its current ‘one size fits all’ approach to decarbonising dwellings through retrofitting for the installation of heat pump technology.
Commenting, LGI Policy Director Philip Hannon said: “It is vital that consumers are incentivised with accessible and affordable options that work for them to upgrade the energy requirements of their homes and businesses. These options should include the replacement of high-carbon fossil fuel infrastructure with highly efficient renewable ready gas boilers. Such a ‘mixed technology’ approach is particularly important to older rural homes and businesses located off the natural gas grid who don’t have the same decarbonisation options as those in urban settings.
“We know there are viable alternative options other than heat pumps to help rural off gas grid consumers play their role in Ireland’s decarbonisation journey. As well as significantly reducing emissions, a renewable ready gas boiler can be installed at a much lower cost than a heat pump system.
Mr Hannon added: “The SEAI have indicated that heat pump installation coupled with the necessary deep retrofitting required to achieve an energy efficiency upgrade could cost more than €60,000, depending on the building type and age. This is way beyond the means of most Irish households living in older housing stock and poses a major barrier to Ireland’s decarbonisation ambitions.”
In January this year, Liquid Gas Ireland published its new policy document ‘Liquid Gas – Making the ‘Just Transition’ more sustainable for rural Ireland’. The document outlines how it’s possible to increase the BER of a typical 1970’s rural bungalow from D1 to B1 by replacing an oil boiler with a renewable ready gas boiler – combined with relatively minor retrofitting and installation of solar panels – at a cost of just over €11,000.
Mr Hannon continued: “Our members are committed to assisting Government in delivering on its Climate Action Plan ambitions and to playing a central role in the decarbonisation of rural Ireland. However, climate change policy must be equitable for all families and businesses and the National Retrofit Plan as currently operated doesn’t offer a fair deal for rural Ireland.
“Half a million homes in Ireland 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. In contrast, switching to a renewable ready gas boiler is easy and affordable, with immediate environmental benefits. By adopting a ‘mixed technology’ approach to decarbonisation, we can accelerate Ireland’s transition to lower carbon and efficient heating sources.
“As we move forward into 2024, the next iteration of the Climate Action Plan must broaden its approach to decarbonising rural Ireland in particular. Heat pumps should not be the only option supported by Government grants. As we have demonstrated clearly in our submission, a ‘mixed technology’ approach which incentivises the greater use of lower carbon LPG and renewable BioLPG must be supported,” Mr Hannon concluded.
LPG is a clean-burning, smoke-free fuel that cuts carbon emissions from heating oil by 11%. BioLPG is a chemically indistinct but renewable version of LPG. Made from sustainably sourced renewable vegetable oils, wastes, and residues, it delivers up to 90% certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional LPG. As BioLPG can be used in existing LPG infrastructure, it increases efficiency for homes and business to switch to a renewable fuel option without the need for capital investment.
You can read LGI's submission in full here.