Bio-fuel incentive could signal oil heating revival

Published:  18 February, 2010

WORCESTER: Plans to include bio-fuels as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive could signal a major revival in oil-fired heating.

The message, from one of the UK’s leading boiler manufacturers, comes on the back of the Government's announcement that bio-liquids are listed as a possible recipient of the incentive for boilers up to 45kW capacity.

The announcement is an endorsement of OFTEC’s field trials which have been testing a bio-fuel blend of either 30% or 50% with kerosene and gas oil and its lobbying for bio-fuel blends to be classified as a renewable technology.

Under the proposed RHI, homes and other buildings using renewable heat technologies will qualify for regular incentive payments from OFGEM for up to 20 years after installation. Martyn Bridges, director of marketing and technical support at Worcester, Bosch Group, believes inclusion in the RHI could signal a major revival in oil-fired heating.

“The oil heating market in the UK has been in steady decline over the last decade as unstable oil prices have encouraged consumers to convert to gas-fired systems.  However, classification as a renewable technology which unlocks the potential for regular incentive payments as part of the RHI could lead to a significant upturn for oil-fired heating.”

Research and development has demonstrated that blended biofuels can equal and better natural gas carbon emissions and 100% bio-liquids can match and better biomass carbon levels.

“Bio-fuels could now effectively compete with natural gas and are capable of taking on biomass on level terms” said Mr Bridges. 

“There is potentially a very significant market for the conversion of existing boilers to bio-fuels and also the replacement of old boilers with technology capable of using a bio-fuel blend.”

However, Mr Bridges remains concerned that new European Union rules which will introduce a seven per cent mix of bio-fuel into the UK oil supply chain in 2010 that will complicate the market and lead to distributors innocently delivering the wrong fuel to domestic homes or homeowners ordering the wrong sort of fuel.

“Most oil-fired boilers currently in operation in the UK are not compatible with bio-fuel and if used could have a detrimental effect on storage tanks, fuel lines and filters, fire valves and oil pumps. Before bio-fuel can be introduced into the UK on a mass scale we must ensure that the supply chain is capable of handling it,” said Mr Bridges.

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