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November 18, 2023 ---- Gastec Training


The government has set out proposals to end the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid from 2026. In most cases, households would be expected to switch to a heat pump, however, we know this is not always a possibility due to costs and the work required. So what is the alternative to homes running on fossil fuel heating? Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)

Around 150 oil-heated properties across the UK from homes, pubs, schools to churches have been using the renewable liquid fuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) for the past couple of years as part of a demonstration project. The switch from kerosene to HVO required a minor modification to the boilers at an estimated cost of £500. As a result, carbon emissions were reduced by 88%. Research shows there is more than enough sustainably sourced supply to meet demand for HVO on a countrywide scale.

That’s why renewable liquid fuels, with minimal upfront cost and disruption, are the ideal alternative to an expensive heat pump installation.

What exactly is HVO?

HVO is a renewable liquid fuel made from certified waste fats and oils and manufactured by a synthesised process with hydrogen to create a greener, cleaner fuel than kerosene.

The ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) confirms HVO is a sustainable fuel that is made from waste products or crops and doesn’t contribute to deforestation. Renewable liquid fuel is a globally produced product and there is currently still palm in the supply chain. However, the development of tough environmental and sustainable standards means this has diminished dramatically. Put in comparison to the alternatives, this is still one of the best options out there.

For example, a leading HVO producer has stated that palm feedstock accounts for only 5% of the HVO produced and none of this product is used in the UK. The UK Government’s own monitoring states that no palm product is used in imported HVO.

Testing carried out so far suggests HVO will work with virtually any existing oil heating appliance once some simple modifications have been made at minimal cost in comparison to some of the alternatives. This exchange of parts for a new fuel source will not be too dissimilar to the proposed hydrogen-ready boilers waiting on a hydrogen blend to go live.

In all cases, the use of HVO will dramatically cut carbon emissions, but to achieve maximum carbon reduction, we recommend upgrading older appliances to a modern, high-efficiency ‘A-rated’ boiler. This is likely to save significantly on fuel and running costs.

The trials that have been carried out so far suggest that it is possible to reuse an existing oil tank and there should be no reason why HVO cannot be stored in the tank you have, as long as it is well maintained and prepared for the changeover. HVO specification states that HVO remains operable in temperatures as low as -22° so storage should not become an issue frequently.

Of course, there are pushbacks with getting HVO approved and distributed on a nationwide scale. There are sufficient quantities to cover what is a relatively modest market in comparison to the natural gas grid. Everything comes down to getting the legislation passed to allow an alternative fuel source approved. Trials are showing the technology works, although cost remains a problem to be addressed. So does the future of kerosene for heating homes affect you? Rest assured, either way, you will be leading the charge with whatever becomes the new normal for heating your customer’s properties.

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Gastec Training Ltd.

Gastec Training and Assessment Centres have been the leading supplier of ACS training and assessment services to the trades for almost 30 years.

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