Solid Fuel: The issue of untaxed solid fuel remains a serious threat to the industry

The Hardware Journal asked Eddie Scaife, CEO, Solid Fuel Trade Group, to outline current thinking in the solid fuel industry from their perspective. With carbon tax receipts for solid fuel for last winter (20/21) indicating a growth of approximately 20% over the previous year (19/20) this is a reflection of the increase in carbon tax charged, rather than an indication of volume growth.

Earlier this year the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) launched a public consultation on the development of new Solid Fuel Regulations for Ireland. There were over 3,500 individual responses as well as detailed technical responses from over 30 parties. Interestingly, 69% of respondents, as reported by DECC, reported that they were NOT in favour of a national regulation on solid fuels.

However, the Minister has now announced new standards for domestic solid fuels which will be introduced across the State and plans to have them in place before September 2022. The new regulations will be finalised in the coming months but already both the timeline and the practical implementation look very challenging. In summary the new standards propose that:

  • All coal and related products nationwide, including manufactured solid fuel and peat briquettes will be required to emit less than 10g of smoke per hour when burned, reducing to 5g by 2025.
  • The sulphur content permitted for all fuels (currently 2%) will also be halved over time. Products will be certified and labelled by suppliers to ensure they can be easily identified.
  • Wood sold for heating will have to have a moisture content of 25% or less reducing to 20% within 4 years, while wet wood will come with instructions to the purchaser about how to dry it.
  • There will be no ban on sod peat harvesting or burning. However, a regulatory regime to reduce its use in more urbanised areas is under examination.
  • A new Public Awareness Campaign focusing on simple steps people can take when using domestic fires in the winter ahead is being launched.

One in eight households or 600,000 people in Ireland are dependent on solid fuel as their primary form of home heat. When these proposed standards are combined with the impacts of increased carbon taxes the impacts on those living in fuel poverty will be considerable – and necessitate greater financial supports from the Government, especially for those living in rural areas where fuel poverty is most concentrated.

More detail is needed on how the impact on the fuel poor will be addressed. Concern remains over how tests will be performed to determine emission levels and most importantly how the new standards will be enforced given obvious failures to date.

The issue of untaxed solid fuel remains a serious threat to the industry and the proposed new fuel standards will not address this problem. The latest tranche of carbon tax on solid fuel came into effect in May this year. The impact of carbon tax on a 40kg bag of coal is now €3.53 and €0.77 on a bale of peat briquettes. The programme for Government commits to increasing carbon tax to €100 per tonne by 2030, through annual increases of €7.50 per
annum to 2029 and €6.50 in 2030.

The issue is raised time and again by public and industry representatives but as yet an effective mechanism to curtail this activity has yet to be found. With rising carbon taxes and higher VAT in Ireland and no equivalent taxes and lower VAT in N Ireland this problem is likely to get worse. Every effort must be made to bring a workable solution to this problem.

Strong and consistent enforcement of existing environmental and tax regulation is essential if the solid fuel industry in Ireland is to continue to play its vital role in supporting households across the country.

Retail partners at the core of Calor’s operations

Over the last eighteen months, Irish people had the chance to remember the importance of their local shop. Whether it’s the local convenience store that we depend on for daily essentials or the hardware store that we waited to re-open as we planned how we’d improve our homes and gardens. Ireland’s
retailers did us proud, they were there when we needed them most.

Calor’s relationships with local retailers has been at the core of their business since they were founded over 80 years ago. They know their success depends on yours as retailers and they want to help you to serve your customers who are their customers too. One of the ways Calor supports retailers is by providing marketing tools including seasonal campaigns, social media content, PR support along with health and safety training.

Another key support is in their commitment to the quality of their products. Calor puts safety first and they help you to demonstrate this to your customers. All cylinders that they supply to retailers go through mandatory checks before they are delivered to their retailer network. They ensure that their retailers can guarantee the quality and safety of the Calor products they stock.

They are also committed to helping you meet your customers changing needs. Their BioLPG renewable gas cylinders have been a huge hit with retailers. Calor were the first to bring renewable gas cylinders to the market in Ireland and their retailers have seen the benefit of this investment in innovation and sustainability.

For more information on becoming a Calor retailer, check out their website at or contact us on 01 450 5000.

Growing demand for environmentally friendly renewable fuels

“The next fuel season looks likely to be a difficult one for the industry with increases in carbon tax (now locked in annually until 2030), significant underlying commodity cost increases and a record sod turf harvest impacting on demand”. says Peter Layden of Arigna Fuels. However, the biggest challenge will come from the increased focus and awareness of the causes and effects of climate change. Every week new articles appear highlighting the effect of solid fuel on both CO2 emissions and local air quality.

Many solid fuel users will become much more careful as to their choice of fuel with a view to “reducing their carbon footprint”. Anticipating a growing demand for environmentally friendly renewable fuels Arigna Fuels are introducing Harvest Flame, a 100% renewable fuel made from agricultural residues using their new torrefaction process. This product is free from any carbon tax and therefore cannot be undercut by illegal product from any source. It also meets the smoke emission limits making it a truly environmentally friendly fuel having less than 20% of the emissions of seasoned wood. Initially it will be available in plastic 20kg and 10kg bags making it ideal for instore sales and promotions.

“We are currently ramping up production with the view to having the same production level as our existing fossil fuel plant by September 2022” says Peter. “Increases in carbon tax coupled with a growing awareness of the causes of climate change are going to drive demand for products like this, we intend to be first out of the blocks as we were with our smokeless coal products, Cosyglo and Ecobrite”.

For a sample of this new product please contact

Climate change, Carbon Tax and Covid disruption driving the Solid Fuel agenda

Covid-19 is still with us and looks like it will become a (hopefully contained) ongoing fixture. On the more mundane level of trade and freight costs, it has also had a major ongoing impact. Container costs have been drastically impacted with container costs from Eastern Europe up between 60% and 80% and from South-East Asia up 100%+. On the home front there is a major shortage of artic truck drivers driving up the cost of freight.

Managing Director of Stafford Fuels, Andy Maher says “Coal costs are at an all-time high with a shortage of Natural gas and LNG driving coal usage for power generation in Europe back up. This is driving up the price of coal products worldwide. This all comes after a Government mandated Carbon Tax cost increase in coal products of €19.75 + Vat per tonne of coal – Bituminous and Smokeless. There is an immediate question for the Government as to whether the fuel allowance will be raised sufficiently to counter these very significant cost increases under the much talked about just transition”.

Climate Change is undisputed and the €0.90 per 40 Kg bag increase mandated for every year until 2030 will go ahead. Without doubt volumes will shrink as a result, the only question is by how much and for how long the supply of coal products (Bituminous or Smokeless) will be a viable business. The imminent demise of the Peat Briquette is another major shift. This will undoubtedly see a major shift to wood products.

Despite these difficulties there will be a future for some form of solid fuel, the fact that the number of homes that rely on solid fuel and do not have the cash available to pay for a change of system (even with grant aid) is very significant, probably 600,000 plus homes.

Stafford Fuels is currently working with partners on alternative fuels based on biomass to replace coal products and briquettes. The future will include a very significant element of biomass when technology and price can come together to provide a quality product at an affordable price. In the meantime, the trade will continue to provide a vital quality service.

Discover the benefits of being a Flogas retailer

Extensive product range
Flogas retailers benefit from complete access to their range of cylinders, from butane, propane and patio gas, to their exclusive Gaslight cylinders. Their steel propane cylinders are available in 10.89kg, 34kg and 47kg and their Gaslights are sold in both 5kg and 10kg sizes. Flogas also has a range of spot-heating solutions, including their Living Flame and Superser Heaters, for cost conscious consumers.

Innovative Gaslight cylinders
Flogas is the only company in Ireland offering lightweight and innovative Gaslight cylinders. They can be used for barbeques, patio heaters, boats, caravans and fire pits. The Gaslight is a well-designed and convenient cylinder, half the weight of traditional steel cylinders, making it easier to carry. Their in-demand Gaslights allow their retailers to be one step ahead in the outdoor leisure market.

Retailer support
Flogas is one of Ireland’s largest LPG suppliers with an extensive network of retailers nationwide, from fuel stations to hardware and homeware stores. They are known for providing enviable after sales service with nationwide coverage. Flogas retailers benefit from a dedicated local cylinder representative and access to their highly trained customer service team.

Their team of experienced engineers and technicians can advise on any technical queries you may have. At Flogas, safety is always their priority, and they operate a 24-Hour Emergency Service ensuring that assistance is there whenever you need it.

Increase sales year-round
Their professional image will help you in attracting new business and you’ll be backed up by their comprehensive sales support package. Their sales team has experience in working with retailers to increase their sales all year round. Their continuous program of brand support, including advertising, merchandising and appliance promotions, ensures constant demand and higher sales for bottled gas.

Cylinder Availability
Flogas continue to invest in their local supply chain as we all know cylinder availability is key at peak times. With a network of cylinder distributors across the island, you’ll never be far from a local distribution point. Their investment in cylinder availability ensures you will have sufficient supply when demand is high.

Contact Flogas today on 041 214 9600 to speak to your local cylinder representative and arrange a no obligation meeting to discuss your needs.