OFTEC Celebrates ‘Major Win’ Against Brussels Bureaucrats

Picture of UK and EU flags
OFTEC celebrates a major win in the fight against overbearing Ecodesign Directive requirements.

The Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), working closely with the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and other EU member state organisations, is celebrating a ‘major win’ against bungling Brussels bureaucrats.

Following intensive lobbying by OFTEC on behalf of the oil heating industry in the UK and Republic of Ireland, a new EU standard limiting Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emission levels from boilers has been significantly revised. The standard, which in its earlier form would have had severe repercussions for UK and Republic of Ireland boiler manufacturers, now gives them until 2022 to develop a new generation of oil boiler that will meet the more stringent requirements. Perhaps most significantly, the deadline for compliance is now 5 years later than Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed ‘In Out’ referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU. Any ‘Out’ vote could of course see the standard abandoned altogether.

The limit on NOx emissions produced by oil boilers is outlined in the Ecodesign Directive which governs the design and performance of energy-using products to allegedly reduce energy consumption and minimise environmental impact. Throughout the drafting of the Ecodesign legislation, which included a consultation period with industry, the UK and other member states assumed NOx levels would be measured using the latest standard EN 267:2009 +A1:2011. However, in May 2014 when the calculation methods were published, an earlier version of the standard, EN 267:2009 had been referenced.

The difference between the two standards influences results by approximately 28mg/kWh and so testing against the withdrawn EN 267:2009 standard would have meant that manufacturers were forced to develop appliances with a lower NOx limit (92mg/kWh) in order to comply. NOx emissions as low as 92mg/kWh can only be achieved with a blue flame burner rather than the yellow flame burners which are currently in use. Therefore, oil boilers would need to be completely redesigned and technicians retrained to maintain these new products.

OFTEC, DEFRA and later DECC, successfully lobbied to reverse this decision and as a result, the final version of the calculation methods states that NOx levels from kerosene burning appliances will be measured using the latest standard EN 267:2009 +A1:2011.

OFTEC’s Technical Director Paul Rose says, “The EU’s decision is a major win for the oil heating industry which will now preserve the use of yellow flame burners, subject to meeting other Ecodesign requirements, for at least another eight years. This should provide sufficient time for oil boiler manufacturers to develop appliances which emit lower NOx levels for future use and for technicians to acquire the necessary skills to maintain these.”