A recent survey commissioned by a liquid fuel trade body seeks to play up economic case for continuing to consider biofuels as part of UK heating mix beyond the 2020s
A trade body representing LPG and BioLPG suppliers has claimed government proposals to ban fossil fuel heat systems in buildings off the gas-grid are not economically viable.
Liquid Fuel UK, an association representing fuel suppliers, system manufacturers and installers, has warned that plans drawn up by ministers to prevent the off-grid installation of fossil fuel systems from 2026 should not go ahead in their current form.
The government had put forward the proposals as part of a consultation that ran until 12 January this year as part of efforts to expand heat pump adoption nationally and move away from fossil fuel heating.
Any decision to pass the proposals into law in the current market could see millions of homeowners, particularly in rural areas, unable to afford a move to electric heating systems that are currently more expensive than other options, according to Liquid Fuel UK.
The trade body argues that LPG systems, installed either on their own or as a hybrid solution combined with a heat pump, can significantly reduce the costs and installation time compared to solely moving to a fully electric system. These costs risk being increased for less efficient properties that may need additional material improvements in a house, the trade body argues.
The government has introduced legal targets that will require the UK to have fully reduced or offset national carbon emissions by 2050.
Existing heat systems that predominantly run-on natural gas and other fossil fuels are seen as a major contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions. Low carbon heat pumps and district heat solutions are seen by both the government and major environmental watchdogs as the primary means to decarbonise buildings.
Argument for choice
Sophia Haywood, public affairs director at Liquid Fuel UK, said the government should continue to allow the choice of LPG systems in off-grid homes to address growing concerns about fuel and heat costs.
BioLPG products sourced from 100 per cent renewable sources were cited by the association as a possible solution for off-grid homes that can greatly curb carbon emissions over other forms of liquid fuel. The fuel can also be dropped into existing systems already available on the market, added Liquid Fuel UK.
Ms Haywood said, “People have to be given a choice in how they heat their homes, which is why it’s so important the government supports a mix of technologies.”
The LPG industry has committed itself to being 100 per cent renewable by 2040.
Liquid Fuel UK’s comments are based on the conclusions of a survey of 1,000 rural homeowners that it commissioned to test views on the government’s attempts to decarbonise off-grid heat.
The conclusions were said to be largely critical about the possible costs facing individuals to switch to solutions such as heat pumps. Around 80 per cent of respondents were also said to be unaware of the consultation proposals set out by the government late last year to ban future installations of systems designed exclusively for fossil fuels.
UK biofuel plans
The wider liquid fuel sector has been working to build an evidence base to pressure the government to consider biofuels as a lower carbon replacement for existing LPG systems. One of the main arguments is the potential of biofuels to curb the initial upfront installation costs when compared to heat pumps.
A UK biofuels strategy set to launch either this year or in 2023 is expected to provide more clarity on what role the government may see for liquid fuel as part of tis national decarbonisation plans.
The delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy, which was published by the government last year, said that the adoption of biofuels for the purpose of off-grid heating was among several different technology solutions being considered as helping decarbonise homes.
However, the strategy said at the time that the government viewed biofuels as having some significant limitations that risked undermining its suitability as a lower carbon solution due to issues around the sustainability of supply. Further research around the economies of biofuels for heat were therefore needed, according to the strategy.
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