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European impasse leaves oil heating in limbo

The UK heating industry could struggle to prepare for an energy efficient future thanks to a disagreement between the European Commission and the European heating manufacturers.
An impasse between the two parties concerns Commission plans, part of the Energy Using Products (EUP) Directive, to insist that boilers up to 70 kW conform to a seasonal energy efficiency target of 75 per cent.

The target, which is due to be in place by January 2013, is calculated using the Ecoboiler interim model which the Commission has had designed to help drive the design and manufacture of increasingly energy efficient boilers.

However, during UK lab tests, best-in-class oil-fired condensing boilers have struggled to reach the 75% minimum seasonal efficiency levels demanded.

Martyn Bridges, director of marketing and technical support, at Worcester, Bosch Group, says: “As it stands, the Ecoboiler model would, overnight, make all of the highly efficient oil-fired condensing boilers, currently available in the UK, obsolete. In order to comply with the Directive, as it stands, manufacturers would have to fast-track R&D and make significant extra investment which would only increase costs for installers and householders.”

The European Heating Industry (EHI) has put forward its own simplified spreadsheet model which adopts an initial boiler-only approach before adding on other heating types, such as solar, and boiler management systems. In effect, this approach, combining boiler and room temperature controls, is capable of surpassing the 75% minimum threshold.

However, until a decision is made on which model to use the UK’s heating industry remains in limbo. “In effect, there is a stand-off at the moment between the Commission and manufacturers,” Bridges says.

“We, as manufacturers, believe it is possible to deliver the boiler efficiency that the Commission wants but via a different approach. Boiler management controls can do the job, but until we get a decision on the acceptability of the proposed EHI model, we remain in limbo.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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