Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

29th Oct 2018


I caught up with a senior industry figure this week, and while putting the world right, we found agreement on our desire to see global solutions to the global problem of climate change. Now I can be accused of being a bit “matter of fact”, but I like to see things through the prism of numbers – once a bean counter always a bean counter I hear you cry.

So we chatted about the desire to see UK heat decarbonise and we both saw the sense of doing so in an economically rational way. So I confided in him what I had been reading up on this week and how it linked to this precise issue.

Off grid home heating is a nightmare for the Government. They want to decarbonise but frankly, the options all cost serious bucks and they have none. So somehow they have to get others to pay, or not do it. Without giving away confidences, they are struggling.

Their Clean Growth Plan envisages the end of high carbon fossil fuels – they mean oil and solid fuel – and want to start by phasing these out in new build. They know they have to tackle the 1 million plus existing users too but all options look bad.

Swapping an oil boiler for a heat pump saves 2500kgs of carbon a year. Putting aside any refurbishment costs and the higher up-front costs, the consumer would currently pay an extra £50 a year in bills (all figures from EST). So the crude cost per tonne of carbon saved is £25.

I’ve been researching carbon off-setting, not the dodgy type, but literally The Gold Standard – endorsed by environmentalists and development bodies. I could buy a carbon offset, in a project which sees open fire cooking replaced with cleaner fuel (LPG) in Rwanda for $13 a tonne – yep for a tenner in £s. So I could cut a tonne of carbon emitted in the UK for £25 or two and half tonnes in Rwanda. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

The extra benefits to those in Rwanda, are improved health – no open fires inside buildings (which is good for the economy) and trees are not being felled for fuel. Here at home, that initial expenditure is avoided, literally saving households tens of thousands of £s. Is BEIS thinking what I’m thinking?

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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