Responding to the government’s British energy security strategy

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The government must urgently revisit the British energy security strategy, focusing more attention on measures to help households reduce their energy usage now, and on supporting cost-effective and practical low carbon energy solutions.

For the 1.7 million UK households that currently use oil, renewable liquid fuels such as HVO should be prioritised as HVO immediately reduces carbon emissions by 88%. It can also be used in an existing oil boiler following a simple, low cost conversion that takes one hour and costs around £500.

With the increasing cost and uncertainty over energy, the publication of a robust and practical plan is an important step as we look to transition away from fossil fuels to low carbon alternatives.

But while the focus of the document looks to the infrastructure needed to meet Britain’s future energy generation and consumption, there is very little on how the government intends to help households and businesses to reduce their energy requirements NOW. Given the current situation, we think this is a very serious omission. The best energy is the energy you don’t use, so this is where the new strategy should have started.

We are particularly concerned about off-gas grid households that use oil heating. The government has stated that 65% of these homes are in EPC Bands E to G (a much higher proportion than homes that use mains gas heating), making them some of the least energy efficient in Britain.

The government has proposed that, from 2026, these households will be expected to install a heat pump should they need to replace their existing boiler. It makes no sense to install a heat pump in an energy inefficient building, yet that is exactly what these households will, in most cases, be forced to do. We estimate that the average cost of a heat pump, and the necessary energy efficient improvements, will be around £20,000 – which for most is completely unaffordable. Yet there is nothing in the new strategy to help these households.

This is completely at odds with the statements in this new energy strategy and recent Heat and Buildings strategy that the government is committed to choice, and to a fair transition. Where off-gas grid homes are concerned, they are doing the opposite – offering no choice and treating them extremely unfairly.

The industry has already demonstrated the viability of an HVO solution after sponsoring the conversion and running cost of nearly 150 oil homes to the fossil-free fuel. We urge the government so support a wider rollout.

You can support the Future Ready Fuel campaign for fair heat decarbonisation here

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