Call for Government to rethink Biofuels Agenda

The UK oil heating and cooking industry – is calling for a new focus when it comes to biofuels production and use, after the government agreed to slow down the introduction of biofuels for road transport this week.

The change in direction comes in the wake of a Government commissioned report by Ed Gallagher, chair of the Renewable Fuels Agency, which suggests a cautious approach to biofuels for road transport, amidst fears that it could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and rising food prices.

Jeremy Hawksley, Director General at OFTEC said “We are urging the Government to take on a new biofuels agenda. The focus now should certainly be on using biofuels for home heating rather than road transport.”

Previously the heating sector has taken a back seat with the Government when it comes to biofuels, perhaps because the sector is relatively small when compared with road transport. However, research has shown that biofuels used for heating will have a more positive effect on reducing carbon emissions than using biofuels for road transport.

Under the government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts must come from a renewable source by 2010.

There also is a challenge to provide those off the gas mains with a sustainable alternative to oil heating and initial research has shown that a 20% bio-fuel blend with kerosene (used for oil central heating and cooking) might cut carbon emissions in the UK by 1.5m tonnes per annum.

To drive this vision forward, OFTEC and the ICOM Energy Association (ICOM) have joined forces with Carbon Connections, the University of East Anglia and Norfolk County Council on an ambitious research project. The work will cost £0.25m, and will determine how bio-heating oil could replace kerosene and gas oil for domestic and commercial heating oil appliances.

Jeremy Hawksley explained “We are looking at the viability a bio-heating oil blend of at least 20% biofuel mixed with 80% kerosene, which would offer significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The preferred bio-fuel would be waste vegetable oil, which would not contribute to rising food costs. We are also looking at a biofuel which will run on existing oil boilers, so that people won’t have to invest in new heating equipment.”

Hawksley believes that biofuels have a significant role to play in the future of home heating. With the correct focus and proper management, biofuels can offer a viable alternative to fossil fuels, without increasing food prices or damaging the environment.