Renewable liquid fuel demonstrations pick up steam with £800,000 investment

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The liquid fuel heating industry has announced the second phase of its fossil fuel replacement demonstration as it commits to convert 200 homes and businesses across the UK from oil heating to the renewable fuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) this winter, amounting to an initial investment of over £800,000.

The news follows the publication of the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy which recognises the role of renewable liquid fuels in the decarbonisation of off-grid homes.

The demonstration will see properties immediately benefit from an 88% reduction in carbon emissions. The conversion requires minimal changes to the boiler and storage tank at a cost of around £500 and takes less than an hour to complete.

The fossil-free fuel, sourced from waste cooking oil, fats and greases has been certified as sustainable by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC).

The initiative follows a trial last winter across 20 homes, from Cornwall to Scotland, which demonstrated there were no technical limitations to using HVO as a direct ‘drop-in’ replacement for kerosene.

This second phase will broaden the geographic spread and will also, for the first time, allow the industry to test the logistics of what could be a bigger transition to renewable liquid fuels over the coming years for the estimated 1.7 million properties using oil. OFTEC registered heating technicians will carry out regular checks on the appliances to monitor performance.

The demonstration includes participants from all sectors of the liquid fuel heating industry and is being led by trade associations UKIFDA, for the fuel distributors, and OFTEC, for the equipment manufacturer and training providers. A further 17 fuel distributors who represent around 80% of the home heating oil market will also be supporting the initiative.

In a joint statement the CEO’s of the trade associations, Ken Cronin of UKIFDA and Paul Rose of OFTEC, said: “We know from our research carried out over the last 12 months that oil heated homes want to decarbonise in a manner which causes the least disruption and offers the lowest cost of change. The drop-in fuel being used in our demonstrations, HVO, represents the most practical and cost-effective solution to both of these requirements.”

Decarbonising rural properties is a particular challenge as they tend to be older and poorly insulated which can make it difficult and expensive to retrofit alternative heating technologies such as heat pumps which are typically more suited to modern well-insulated buildings.

Ken Cronin and Paul Rose added: “The Heat and Buildings Strategy acknowledges the role of renewable liquid fuels off-grid and the challenges of installing heat pumps in older properties. That’s why we’re rapidly expanding our demonstration project to show the real world potential of a wider rollout of renewable liquid fuels.

“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.”

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