Renewable gas: Policy developments and opportunities for biomethane10th May 2023
Supporting rural consumers on their journey to a sustainable energy future10th May 2023
Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI), the association representing companies operating in the LPG and BioLPG industry in Ireland, is encouraging the Government to embrace lower carbon and renewable energy options like LPG and BioLPG to deliver a cost-effective ‘Just Transition’ to decarbonisation for rural Ireland.
LGI members, who include distributors, equipment manufacturers, and service providers offer clean, versatile, and alternative lower carbon energy of choice for off-grid energy users in the residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture, leisure, and transport sectors in Ireland.
LGI has identified that rural businesses and homes urgently require a wider suite of accessible, affordable, and fairer options to help them transition away from oil and other high carbon fossil-based fuels. This ‘Just Transition’ would mean that rural buildings have the same variety of choices to decarbonise as those in urban settings. The arguments in favour of this have been set out in a new report ‘Liquid Gas – Making the ‘Just Transition’ more sustainable for rural Ireland’.
The current ‘one size fits all’ approach which prioritises the installation of heat pumps is straightjacketing the options open to rural consumers as they move to decarbonise. While the environmental impact of heat pumps is obvious, a sole focus on this alone is too blunt an instrument and is not a good fit for rural Ireland.
Rural communities must not be left behind on Ireland’s decarbonisation journey, due to a lack of energy transition options available to them. There is significant scope to widen the focus beyond the narrow set of options being put forward when it comes to decarbonising energy supply. A mixed technology approach to decarbonisation must embrace the use of lower carbon and renewable fuel options like LPG, BioLPG. and in time rDME. Supporting a switch from oil to a renewable ready gas boiler, combined with moderate fabric upgrades to a home, will open a more progressive step-by-step ‘Just Transition’ to decarbonisation for rural consumers.
A key to delivering this ‘Just Transition’ is through a mixed technology approach as set out in ‘Liquid Gas – Making the ‘Just Transition’ more sustainable for rural Ireland’. The centrepiece of this is research into the alternative pathways available to a typical Irish property archetype using kerosene oil to transition to a BER B2 or higher. The findings showed that LPG and BioLPG can offer a more cost-competitive pathway compared with heat pumps in achieving an improved energy efficiency rating, whilst also delivering low annual carbon emissions.
The research looked at a D1 BER rated one-story bungalow operating on kerosene oil with already pre-existing baseline renovations complete including roof insulation, floor insulation and double glazing. It showed that a BER uplift to B1 was achievable by switching to a renewable ready gas boiler with additional fabric energy efficiency upgrades. This included cavity wall insulation and room thermostat temperature controls. It also involved the installation of solar PV panels. The combined upfront cost was €11,331 before individual SEAI energy grants are applied.
Heat pumps undoubtedly have a significant role to play in decarbonisation, however, LGI contends that rural communities deserve more options and greater choice. The installation of a heat pump is simply too expensive an option, potentially costing more than €60,000 where a deep retrofit is required. For older rural properties, it’s just practically unviable.
Renewable ready gas boilers offer an alternative long-term pathway to decarbonisation at a much lower upfront cost. This approach would support the gradual introduction of renewable LPG, including BioLPG and rDME, into the fuel mix over time. Made from advanced feedstocks, rDME is clearly a sustainable fuel for the future. It can be generated from municipal solid waste, forest residues, animal waste, sewage/industrial sludge, and energy crops. There is great potential for the development of this advanced feedstock in Ireland and LGI is urging the Government to consider investing in such development.
Rural businesses and homes should be given alternative solutions to their energy needs such as renewable ready gas boilers, where LPG, BioLPG and rDME can be utilised. This approach will allow a ‘Just Transition’ in the journey to decarbonisation.
Liquid Gas – Making the ‘Just Transition’ more sustainable for rural Ireland’ can be viewed at www.lgi.ie