Changes introduced to proposed legislation will see a consultation launched to consider introducing a renewable liquid heating fuel obligation if passed into law
Liquid fuel specialists have argued that the latest round of amendments to the government’s energy bill is an important step for pushing biofuel as a source of lower carbon heat.
A joint statement from OFTEC chief executive Paul Rose and Ken Cronin, his counterpart in the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA), said an amendment requiring a consultation to be held on alternative fuels sourced from renewable sources such as biomass has been backed by MPs.
Both associations were responding to the completion of the Report Stage of the Energy Bill’s passage through parliament this week. An amendment on biofuels was proposed by MP Claire Coutinho, the recently appointed secretary of state at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
The joint statement claimed that the proposals were approved with cross-party support and were based on efforts by MP George Eustice to push for consideration of biofuels such as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to be considered for use in off-grid properties alongside heat pumps.
Mr Rose and Mr Cronin said in a joint statement that HVO is a solution that can have an effective role to help reduce a reliance on kerosene as a fuel source for heating homes off the gas grid.
They stated: “Rural communities deserve to have a range of options to decarbonise their homes which reflect their view on affordability and level of acceptable disruption. The provision of a drop-in replacement renewable liquid fuel provides a clear pathway to achieving decarbonisation quickly.”
“This amendment will require the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero to deliver a consultation on a renewable liquid heating fuel obligation within 12 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. We will work closely with the Department to make this happen and also to meet the clear wishes of many MPs expressed yesterday to ensure this process is delivered as quickly as possible and well within that timeframe.”
Both OFTEC and the UKIFDA have been involved with industry-funded trials looking at the use of HVO for heating that was this year extended to 150 homes and buildings in the UK. The industry bodies argue that the tests show that HVO could serve as a sustainable source of lower carbon heat with sustainable supply.
At present, the government is backing solutions such as heat pumps and district heating as its preferred options for decarbonising off-grid properties.
The government’s Biomass Strategy, which was published earlier this year, noted that HVO was a potentially convenient solution that would only require minor modifications to existing oil boilers to heat certain homes. This technology could help decarbonise some off-grid homes that may be more difficult to install heat pumps in, the findings noted.
The strategy stated, “However, HVO is not currently offered to heat customers on a commercial basis, and the government understands that the current cost of heating a property with HVO would be significantly more expensive than the cost of heating a property with kerosene.”
The Biomass Strategy also queried whether a consistent supply of HVO could be guaranteed to meet demand both for heating, as well as to supply biofuels used in other sectors such as transport.