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How renewable liquid fuels can deliver a low carbon future for rural households

How renewable liquid fuels can deliver a low carbon future for rural households

Zoe Milward of Cornwall, owner of the first property in the UK to trial HVO, with John Weedon, director of South West fuel supplier Mitchell & Webber | Credit: OFTEC


3 min read Partner content

Renewable liquid fuels offer an affordable way to help consumers in rural areas decarbonise on the pathway to net zero.

The need to take decisive action on climate change has never been more apparent. And no area requires more urgent attention than housing and heating, with domestic heat accounting for around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

But there is increasing concern that complicated support schemes, unfamiliar technology and high costs are threatening to curb progress towards net zero.

Decarbonisation is going to be extremely costly; there is no way of getting around this fact. Support has been pledged to help those on the lowest incomes make the necessary changes – but what about those deemed ‘able to pay’?

Rural households are likely to be hit particularly hard. They not only face the high cost and disruption of installing new low carbon heating systems, but the many who live in older, larger, poorly insulated properties will also need to fund expensive home energy efficiency improvements.

In the wake of Covid and the many conflicting demands on public and household finances, a fair transition to a net zero future must now be secured for all sectors of society.

This requires a more pragmatic, flexible approach; one that offers households a range of more affordable, practical low carbon heating solutions than those currently on offer. Keeping costs down is far more likely to gain the crucial public support needed for success.

For older rural homes - a key early target for decarbonisation – the options must include renewable liquid fuels which combine high emission cuts with easy conversion for existing oil and LPG households.

Successful trials of a fossil free, almost drop-in replacement for heating oil – which is by far the most popular rural heating fuel - are underway in homes across the UK, spearheaded by liquid fuel trade associations OFTEC and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA).

If rural consumers are not offered a cost-effective way to decarbonise their homes, progress will stall.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is made from sustainably certified waste materials and immediately cuts carbon emissions by almost 90%, with the simple system conversion expected to cost around £500.

Debate continues around the best use of biofuel resource and whether it should be channeled into aviation or heating. The argument tends to focus on the technical challenge with best use equaling the sector with no obvious alternative solutions. But surely the need for affordable heating trumps that for leisure travel, especially when it’s questionable whether we should even be travelling as much in the future? If rural consumers are not offered a cost-effective way to decarbonise their homes, progress will stall.

A renewable liquid fuel solution would help overcome the crucial cost and disruption issues many rural households face and in a recent survey of over 1,500 oil heated homeowners, an overwhelming 98% said they would be interested in this option.

The case to include renewable liquid fuels in future decarbonisation policy speaks for itself. But more support is needed to ensure the message is received loud and clear by policy makers.

To find out more, contact Paul Rose CEO of OFTEC at [email protected], to arrange a video meeting or call and visit the Future Ready Fuel website at

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