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FPS Expresses Concern Over Possible Ireland Carbon Tax Increase

January 10, 2019

Responding to the first draft of Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). the trade association for the oil and fuel sector in Ireland and the UK, The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) has written to the Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton.

The FPS has requested a meeting to discuss how the association can work with the Government to help find ways to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.

The FPS and its members feel strongly that oil and – more long-term – a liquid efuel and/or bio fuel, can be part of the phased solution and the association has been working closely with the European Confederation of Fuel Distributors (ECFD), boiler manufacturers and other trade associations to promote a liquid bio fuel.

FPS Ireland Representative Nick Hayes comments: “Our members play an important role in the Irish economy in supplying not only heating oil for homes and businesses but also fuel for agriculture, construction, road transport, marine fuels and importantly fuel for back-up generators for hospitals, schools, care homes and data centres.

“Several demonstration projects with heating systems running on partly renewable liquid fuels are already in place across Europe, achieving substantial levels of emissions reduction so it is disappointing that this potential is not mentioned in the Minister’s recent statement.

“The Minister says that at least 170,000 homes will be supported to switch out oil-fired boilers to heat pumps and solar panels.I would appreciate understanding the rationale for this figure and the technology assigned for the switch out. There is a danger in making early technology decisions and also in only concentrating on a small section of oi-fired homes when industry innovation can help all oil-fired homes.”

FPS Chief Executive Guy Pulham adds: “We have in the UK set up a working group with the Government alongside different sections of the supply chain with representation from trade associations for refineries, boiler manufacturers and installers and tank storage.  This working group has been welcomed by the Government in providing information and ideas on action the government can take to meet carbon reduction targets in off gas grid buildings and we would welcome the opportunity of setting up a working group with Minister Bruton.

“We are not trying to protect the heating oil industry at all costs and we recognise and support the Irish Government’s work to meet carbon reduction targets but our members believe that a liquid fuel should have a major role in meeting the future needs of off grid homes. There is ample supply, an effective distribution network and low-cost installation requirements to use oil for heating and cooking. These are excellent benefits which could be retained using a bio or carbon neutral liquid fuel.”

Ongoing running costs continue to be good versus electric solutions and this is supported by the recent figures released by Sutherland Tables, a recognised independent source of comparative domestic heating prices, who say the average annual cost of heating a three-bedroom home in Ireland with heating oil is €1,594 per year when the same house to heat using electric storage heaters is €2,153 per annum. Oil is also far cheaper than air source heat pumps (with radiators) at €1,890 per year and LPG €2,296.

The social implications for having a dependence on one technology are also important and should not be understated. With 400,000 households in Ireland in fuel poverty, replacing oil with high capital/high running cost alternatives will directly affect those people most in need.

The FPS believes the Government should look at a tiered approach to achieving the 2050 carbon reduction target, setting a pathway of home heating carbon emission reductions. That way industry can adapt all aspects of technological innovation thereby providing the means for consumers to make cost competitive choices in meeting those targets. A change the standard specifications of the fuel would also give industry time to implement innovative solutions.

Guy Pulham concludes: “Such a pathway would also give consumers the opportunity to make short term efficiencies such as replacing old oil boilers now (highly efficient, oil-fired condensing heating systems save up to 30 per cent of the fuel oil) and adding smart meters to tanks and installing better insulation in their homes. We urge Minister to Bruton to meet with us and discuss a pathway forward.”

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