A partnership of trade bodies and engineers are looking to expand industry-backed trials in England to build a case for using fossil fuel-free liquid fuel as part of national decarbonisation strategies
A fossil fuel free alternative to kerosene is now being used to heat over 100 properties across the UK as part of industry-backed trials.
Oil heating trade associations OFTEC and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) have partnered on the project to test Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) for domestic heating as part of its Future Ready Fuel campaign. Over £800,000 has been invested by the sector in the trials that form part of efforts to build up an evidence base to encourage the UK Government to consider alternative liquid fuels as part of its heat decarbonisation plans.
HVO is derived from products such as used cooking oil and has been certified as a sustainable source of fuel by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) body.
The two trade bodies claim that the liquid fuel can reduce emissions by 88 per cent compared to kerosene and can also be used in existing heating systems once they undergo a conversion process estimated to cost around £500.
Trade bodies representing the oil heating sector are seeking to argue that solutions such as HVO can provide a market ready, lower carbon heating solution for certain property types at a small amount of the upfront cost currently required to install heat pumps.
Building an evidence base
Kerosene fuel distributor Mitchell and Webber said that it converted its first oil heated property to run on HVO in November 2020 and has significantly expanded the rollout to over 50 sites in England that includes homes, businesses and schools.
John Weedon, director with the company, said that it was important to demonstrate the viability of using HVO to heat a range of off-grid properties that all have unique designs and heating needs.
He added, “We’ve very pleased with the progress we’ve made and the conversion process has been very straight forward. Our technicians have reported how clean the system is even after several months running HVO and our customers are very happy, even saying how they’ve forgotten they’re using a greener fuel as it works in exactly the same way as kerosene.”
“We know many of our oil customers want to play their part in going green but are concerned about the high costs and disruption in converting to heat pumps. That’s why we’ve been proactively working with our industry partners to demonstrate the benefits of HVO as a simple, alternative solution for homes, not just in Cornwall, but across the country.”
OFTEC chief executive Paul Rose and Ken Cronin, his counterpart at UKIFDA, said in a joint statement that off-grid buildings were proving to be one of the most difficult building types to decarbonise.
They argued that a greater choice of alternatives to fossil fuel heating should therefore be considered as part of national decarbonisation plans.
Paul Rose, CEO of OFTEC, and Ken Cronin, CEO of UKIFDA, add: “The off-grid sector is one of the most difficult to decarbonise due its diverse housing stock. If we’re serious about our commitment to net zero, then consumers need a choice of technologies so they can adopt the right fuel for their home in a competitive market. There is no one size fits all solution.
“Our industry has worked together and taken the initiative to demonstrate how oil homes can successfully adopt HVO. We are ready and waiting to lead the charge for a wider rollout, but we need the policy support of government to make this happen.”
The publication of the UK’s heat and Buildings last year concluded that biofuels had some potential to support the decarbonisation of the UK’s buildings. However, these solutions were seen as having significant limitations owing to questions about ensuring a consistent, sustainable supply of the fuel at the scale needed. More research was therefore needed to determine if supply could be scaled up efficiently, the strategy stated.
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