Spatial analysis of residential fuel prices: Local variations in the price of heating oil in Northern Ireland

R Walker, Paul McKenzie, C Liddell, Christopher Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial disparities in the price of residential heating fuel may have considerable impacts on social well-being. Dependence on relatively expensive fuels in off-gas grid contexts may be linked to high rates of fuel poverty, making it a key policy issue. However, fuel prices in the off-grid sector have received relatively little research attention. This study investigates pricing structures within the heating oil market in Northern Ireland, a region with high rates of fuel poverty, using applied spatial analysis. The results indicate significant spatial variations in the price of heating oil at local level. High prices occur in remote rural areas and urban areas with high rates of gas heating. Prices appear to arise from a complex set of interacting factors related to local market structures, supply costs, market competitiveness and socio-economic factors which affect demand. This study makes a significant contribution to the literature on off-gas residential heating. Although further research is needed, the results presented here suggest that policy responses such as price regulation may have only limited impacts on fuel poverty levels, emphasizing the importance of maximising access to more affordable fuels (e.g. mains gas or renewables) as part of a sustainable energy solution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-379
JournalApplied Geography
Early online date8 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2015


  • Fuel prices
  • Fuel poverty
  • Energy poverty
  • Energy affordability
  • Off-gas
  • Social justice
  • Inequality
  • Regional development
  • GIS
  • Spatial analysis


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