New research confirms biofuels as the future of liquid fuel heating

New research that supports liquid biofuels as a low cost, highest impact carbon reduction solution for oil heated homes, was officially unveiled yesterday (18 June) at OFTEC’s 2019 annual conference.

Industry leaders gathered to hear the outcomes of the six-month study 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 revealed 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.

At the OFTEC AGM, which followed the conference, Laurance Coey, Managing Director at Harlequin Manufacturing, was appointed as the new OFTEC Chairman, replacing Niall Fay of Grant Engineering who steps down following his two-year tenure.

Commenting on the study findings, which were presented at the conference by Jason Woods, founding partner of energy consultancy group In Perpetuum Partners who conducted the research, OFTEC CEO Paul Rose said: "This year’s conference couldn’t be more timely. Just last week, the UK became the first major nation to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, replacing the original target of an 80% reduction on 1990 levels. The result is we must all now push harder to meet this new, tougher goal.

"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%.

Paul Rose continues: "With so many rural properties currently 'leaking' heat, stemming this energy loss must be an essential step in any decarbonisation strategy, where financially and practically possible. There is no way around the fact that this is going to be a vast and costly exercise so government support will be vital to encourage consumer action.

"This is particularly true for those on lower incomes and given the higher rates of fuel poverty in rural areas, we must all ensure the transition to low carbon heat is fair, practical and as affordable as possible."
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 show 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.
Paul Rose added: "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."

At the conference, Kiwa UK Group Technical Director Mark Crowther, who has provided guidance to the Committee on Climate Change, also shared insights into the role hydrogen could play in decarbonising heat and transport.

OFTEC Conference

Left to right: Outgoing OFTEC Chairman, Niall Fay, Grant Engineering; Jason Woods, In Perpetuum Partners; Mark Crowther, Kiwa UK; OFTEC CEO Paul Rose and new OFTEC Chairman Laurance Coey, Harlequin Manufacturing.

Laurance Coey and Paul Rose

New OFTEC Chairman, Laurance Coey, Harlequin Manufacturing (left) and Paul Rose, OFTEC CEO.