In Finland, there could already be a solution for emission-free oil heating

With the right policy framework, Finland has all it needs to decarbonise liquid fuel heating.

The achievement of government policy: by granting subsidies for the abandonment of oil heating, it has pushed the demand for, and prices of, heat pumps to an all-time high.  

Consumers who would have liked to change the heating system to a lower-emission one could have done so by converting oil heating to a new, more energy-efficient oil heating and, at the same time, switching to renewable heating oil. In this way, the investment costs would be relatively low, and with improved energy efficiency, the operating costs would also have decreased, despite the use of more expensive renewable heating oil.

Similarly, it would be easy to connect another heat source to oil heating, such as a heat pump, so that the consumer would have the opportunity to use the cheapest option at any given time. At the same time, it is possible to ensure the sufficiency of heating power in the property, even in the most severe frosts.

By contrast, the subsidy for abandoning oil heating requires the dismantling of the entire oil heating system, which entails additional costs.  At the same time, people are agonising over whether there will be enough electricity at times of peak demand. Every time a household chooses a heat pump instead of oil heating, it increases the peak load of electricity on severe frosty days, because then the heat pumps operate almost exclusively with electric heating element in the same way as direct electric heating.

It would be possible to implement an energy-efficient oil heating system by installing modern new boilers and burners. Using Low Nox burners can also achieve a very low level of nitrogen emissions.

Unfortunately, the government will not provide further support for properties that have already invested tens of thousands to switch from oil heating to heat pumps, leaving these households with the worry of dramatically more expensive electricity and possible power charges for frosty days in the future. The Government marketed heat pump technology to consumers with a promise of cost savings, but when you look at operating costs at today's energy prices, those savings are hard to find.

The goal of politicians is to reduce emissions as quickly as possible and, with the help of liquid fuel heating, this could easily be achieved if the use of renewable heating oil were supported in the same way that heat pumps are being incentivised. For the price of the abandonment aid for one detached house, ten detached houses could be made emission-free by replacing them with renewable heating oil and adjusting the heating system accordingly. At the same time, the energy efficiency of the property would be improved.