LGI: 500,000 rural homeowners ‘could pay high price’ for current climate policy

Over half a million rural homeowners and businesses could pay a high price for Ireland’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to climate policy, according to Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI), which represents the country’s LPG industry.

The government’s National Climate Action Plan envisions the majority of Ireland’s households undergoing retrofitting to install electric heat pumps.

However, LGI says that this approach does not consider the unique needs and economic and infrastructural challenges of rural Ireland.

Over 500,000 Irish properties have no connection to the natural gas distribution network; two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel.

LGI says that connecting remote, less energy-efficient properties to the natural gas grid or installing new heat pump technology will prove prohibitively expensive.

In its new 2040 vision, “A Greener Deal for Rural Ireland”, launched today, LGI argues that the government must legislate for a ‘mixed technology’ approach to decarbonisation, which includes lower-carbon fuels such as LPG and BioLPG.

This, it claims, would lead to a “fairer, just transition for rural Ireland while significantly reducing CO2 emissions”.

According to the organisation, LPG is a clean-burning, smoke-free fuel that cuts emissions from domestic, commercial, industrial and transport sectors by up to 33% compared to heating oil and other solid fuels.

BioLPG is a chemically indistinct but renewable version of LPG, made from sustainably sourced renewable vegetable oils, wastes, and residues, and delivers up to 90% certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional LPG.

BioLPG can be used in existing LPG infrastructure. For customers in rural off-grid homes and businesses, this switch is easy and affordable to make, and the environmental benefits are immediate, the group argues.

LGI estimates that if 500,000 homes switched from using oil-fired central heating to BioLPG by 2040, it would save about 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

In its 2040 vision, LGI says that the government must commit to a strong regional approach to delivering on air quality targets, including better use of widely available lower-carbon energy sources.

Quoting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures, LGI notes that poor air quality results in three premature deaths per week in Ireland.

A switch to LPG and BioLPG, which produce virtually no black carbon and very low levels of air and particulate pollutant emissions, “would therefore have a major impact on regional air quality in Ireland’s rural areas”, it says.

LGI’s vision also lays out a plan for the LPG industry for the next 20 years.

LGI says that it can transition up to 500,000 oil boilers to LPG by 2030, equivalent to 50,000 households and businesses per annum. As an industry, it aims to transition to 100% BioLPG by 2040.

Commenting, Brian Derham, chair of Liquid Gas Ireland, said: “Ireland’s transition to zero-carbon energy must be just. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work.

“It is crucial that the government brings both urban and rural communities on the decarbonisation journey, providing them with technology choices that meet their unique needs through secure, clean, efficient and reliable lower-carbon fuels.”