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Could vegetable oil be the next low carbon heating trend?

Could vegetable oil be the next low carbon heating trend?

over 2 years ago

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Vegetable oil could replace kerosene as a new generation renewable liquid fuel for off-grid homes and buildings following trials across the UK. Four million homes in the UK are currently off the mains gas grid.

What is this new fuel?

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is made from sustainable waste materials sourced without harming the environment. It is claimed to reduce emissions by almost 90% compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

How realistic is it?

A partnership between trade body OFTEC and UKIFDA has attracted private sector investment to carry out trials over the past year, which have so far had promising results. The big advantage over other renewable options is that converting properties is quite easy to do and costs hundreds, rather than the thousands of pounds needed to install some low carbon heating systems. The new fuel could use existing boilers and central heating systems without extensive work needing to be carried out at each property.

Will it really help save the planet?

OFTEC estimates an 88% reduction in carbon emissions over existing liquid fuels. It states that it is now possible to convert existing heating boiler and storage tank equipment to make use of the fuel with “minimal changes” being required, minimising waste and the carbon footprint of manufacturing new equipment.

A joint statement from OFTEC and the UKIFDA said HVO was being promoted as a practical solution for off-grid homes that can be difficult and expensive to retrofit.

In relation to the decarbonisation of heat, the statement 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.”

One potential issue is the availability of biofuels and this may mean that a hybrid solution, using a biofuel boiler and air source heat pump, may facilitate faster decarbonisation with limited biofuel resources.

You can read more about heat pump technology in our blog Is the heating sector ready for the heat pump revolution

You may also be interested in our article What is heat electrification and is it realistic