New research backing liquid biofuels as a low cost, high impact carbon reduction solution for oil-heated homes was officially unveiled at OFTEC’s 2019 annual conference.

Industry leaders gathered to hear the outcomes of the six-month independent study, conducted by In Perpetuum Partners, which used a detailed analysis of oil-heated housing stock in England to help inform extensive modelling that compares biofuels with other low carbon heating options available today.

The research findings found that biofuels, both a 100% pure biofuel and a 30% blend of FAME and kerosene, provide the best carbon reducing routes for the least financial outlay.

Commenting on the study findings, which were presented at the conference by Jason Woods, founding partner of energy consultancy group In Perpetuum Partners, OFTEC Chief Executive Paul Rose said: “The liquid fuel heating industry has the potential to play a pivotal role in decarbonising rural homes. These research findings show that biofuels offer the most cost-effective solution for this hard-to-treat sector. Government and all sector players must now get behind biofuels and make this option a reality to secure a sustainable future for off-grid consumers and industry alike.”

The housing stock research highlighted how oil heated properties tend to be older, detached and often poorly insulated. This means there is considerable scope to reduce heat demand from these homes by carrying out fabric improvements.

Modelling showed that making ‘reasonable’ upgrades, such as installing double glazing, cavity wall and loft insulation, would reduce heat demand by 15% at an average cost of approx. £6,350-£9,150 per home. ‘Deep’ improvements i.e. floor and solid wall insulation would cost more, on average approx. £10,100-£14,350 but reduce heat demand by a substantial 42.5%.

Following analysis of the cost of fabric improvements, how many homes could be upgraded, and the operating and capital cost of each low carbon heating option currently available, the research ranked all solutions by Carbon Saving Cost (£/t) – a metric measuring both decarbonisation and cost to the end consumer.

The results claim that a 100% biofuel offers the lowest cost and highest impact solution compared to all other options, costing an average £166 per tonne of carbon saved (£/t). This is followed by 30% blend of biofuel and kerosene at £204/t.

OFTEC plans to use the findings as part of a strategy document with recommendations for government, which is due to be published in September.

Paul concluded: “Now we are in no doubt that biofuels provide the future path for oil heating, the next step will be to develop ‘pathway options’ for government, detailing how and when industry will develop and roll out low carbon liquid fuels.

"Field trials will also begin to confirm the performance of biofuels and we will further step up our communication with government and stakeholders to secure recognition and support for this compelling solution.”