OFTEC and UKIFDA are partnering to expand trials of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil as a replacement for kerosene to heat homes and buildings with a focus on wider UK adoption

200 homes and businesses are expected to trial using renewable liquid fuel to produce heat as part of expanded testing across the UK.

Oil heating body OFTEC said that £800,000 of private sector money would be invested in the trials of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to prove the case for its wider use as a lower carbon alternative to existing liquid fuels such as kerosene.

The funds are being provided to support a second phase of the trials to look at HVO as a solution to provide lower carbon heat off the gas-grid.

An 88 per cent reduction in carbon emissions over existing liquid fuels is expected to be realised through switching to HVO, according to OFTEC. The trade body added that it was now possible to convert existing heating boiler and storage tank equipment to make use of the fuel with “minimal changes” required.

These changes presently take around an hour for an installer to complete and cost around £500, the trade body added. The fossil fuel free credentials of HVO, which is sourced from waste cooking oils, fats and grease, have been certified as a sustainable fuel by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC).

OFTEC said that a trial held last winter across the UK saw 20 homes using HVO as a replacement for Kerosene.

The latest phase of the trials will now focus on helping the wider oil heating industry to test the logistics of HVO to support a possible roll out to the estimated 1.7 million buildings currently relying on liquid fuel.  This work will be regularly reviewed by OFTEC-registered heating technicians to monitor performance.

OFTEC has partnered with the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) to ensure specialists from across the sector and supply chain are involved in the trials. This will include 17 fuel distributors that represent about 80 per cent of the domestic oil heating market.

A joint statement from OFTEC and the UKIFDA said initial research from trials over the last year found clear interest market interest in options that can decarbonise heat systems with minimal cost and disruption.

HVO is therefore being promoted as a highly practical solution for off-grid homes that can be difficult and expensive to retrofit to ensure the effective use of other low carbon solutions, according to the joint statement.

It added, “To succeed, off-grid decarbonisation will require a flexible approach to ensure households have a choice of low carbon heating technologies suited to the needs of their property. That’s why we are urging the government to extend the incentives for renewable liquid fuels, beyond aviation and road transport, to include off-grid home heating.”

Heat and Building Strategy impact

The announcement of efforts to expand trials for using HVO for heat follows the publication earlier of this month of the delayed Heat and Building Strategy.

A range of different technology solutions are covered in the strategy This includes the adoption of biofuels for the purpose of off-grid heat. However, biofuels are currently seen by the government as being of limited use for its decarbonisation aims owing to questions around the availability of sustainable supply.

It also noted efforts to develop and trial the use of HVO biodiesel for domestic heat and to expand production of the fuel, adding that more research would be needed.

The strategy concluded, “These biofuels are not yet widely available to consumers. With the limited availability of biofuels, hybrid heating systems comprising of a biofuel boiler and air source heat pump may provide a route for limited bioresources to stretch further.”

“BEIS is in regular contact with the oil and LPG industries, and other stakeholders to gather more evidence on potential market developments and the sustainability, costs and consumer impacts of biofuels.”


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