Some 68 per cent of homes in Northern Ireland are still heated by oil and, while oil remains unregulated to the same degree as natural gas and electricity, there is an extensive network of oil distributers and suppliers which ensure that heating oil prices in Northern Ireland remain competitive with other regions.
Coal has less significance as a primary heating source. It is used industrially and currently, in particular, for some power generation although this is due to be phased out within the next few years.
As the natural gas network is further extended, and there is increasing focus on decarbonisation of heating, reliance on more polluting oil and coal is likely to decrease.
Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG)
PG is mainly used by consumers who are not on the natural gas grid, largely as an alternative to heating oil, and for cooking. The market in Northern Ireland consists of around 15,000 domestic and business users of LPG provided via a bulk tank by two suppliers. As in the much larger GB market, the LPG market in NI is not regulated in the same manner as the natural gas market which has some 290,510 consumers.