Dickson Says Energy Strategy Must Deliver for ‘Off-Grid’ Consumers
East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has reaffirmed the need for the new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy to deliver for the majority of Northern Ireland consumers who currently heat their homes with heating oil.
Mr Dickson was speaking following an Economy Committee meeting, in which he questioned Department for the Economy officials on how the soon to be published Energy Strategy, will support ‘off-grid’ energy consumers to decarbonise their home heating.
Mr Dickson commented: “Over 65% of homes in Northern Ireland are heated with oil. This is clearly an issue as we will need to end the use of conventional oil to decarbonise heating and to help address the climate crisis we face. Consumers also do not see the same level of protection from price fluctuations as those on the gas mains network, which may become even more of an issue as we start to phase out fossil fuels.
“Alternatives to oil include potentially biofuels, and air and ground source heat pumps. Although heat pump technology is exceptionally efficient in good conditions, it is currently much more expensive to install than oil for example, and requires homes to be very well insulated. I am hopeful however that the technology will become much cheaper and improve with time to work effectively, without the need for major retrofitting of homes.
“Until then, we need to be considering what sort of advice and financial support we can provide to consumers to make the change and decarbonise their heating systems.
“For years ‘off-grid’ consumers of heating oil or LPG have been at the mercy of fluctuating fuel prices, unregulated like those on mains gas. So it is vital that the new Energy Strategy helps deliver affordable, clean and reliable home heating solutions for such consumers moving forward.”