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HVO Fuel Approved in HEAT Applications as a Low Carbon Heating Fuel

It’s exciting times for the domestic off-grid heating industry as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO fuel) has finally been approved in HEAT applications as a low carbon heating fuel!

This means that those living in homes not connected to the mains gas supply who had for years relied on standard heating oil to heat their homes. They can now lower carbon emissions in their home, whilst continuing to use your existing heating infrastructure within their homes thanks to this approval.

This means that as of the 15th June 2022 in England and the 23rd November 2022 in Wales, HVO fuel is formally approved for use in compliance with the Building Regulations, including in new build properties.

Crown Oil has been instrumental in this work, alongside Alan Black, OFTEC and UKIFDA, working together to gain approval and push HVO fuel into the domestic market.

The transition to low carbon fuels can be achieved as part of a regular service, compared to heat pumps which can be costly and disruptive to install in off-grid homes with poor insulation and low energy efficiency.

HVO fuel (for heating) vs heat pumps

When using HVO fuel for the decarbonisation of off-grid hard-to-heat properties, in comparison to other government backed solutions such as heat pumps and bio-mass, HVO fuel has both a lower CO2e value and a lower primary energy factor than bio-mass wood pellets and electricity required to power a heat pump.

Fuel typeEmissions kg CO2e per kWh (b)Primary energy factor
HVO fuel0.036 kgCO2e per kWh1.180
Wood pellets0.053 kgCO2e per kWh1.325
Electricity 0.136 kgCO2e per kWh1.501
Source: SAP 10.2 Table 12

Not only that, but HVO fuel provides a more straightforward solution for rural homeowners as it’s a drop-in alternative to kerosene. It doesn’t require huge work to make the transition; you can simply change the flexi-pipe and nozzle and be up and running that same day. That’s far less costly and disruptive when compared to the complexity of incorporating a heat pump into a rural property.

hvo heating

‘Future Ready Fuel’ HVO fuel trials

100 UK homes took place in an HVO fuel trial in winter and spring 2021, run by UKIFDA and OFTEC with the fuel supplied by Crown Oil, as part of the Future Ready Fuel campaign.

These trials found that HVO fuel actually heated the house better than kerosene, as well as providing safety benefits as it’s both non-toxic and odourless.

The biggest advantage found from running HVO fuel versus a heat pump is that the pump has to run 24/7 to keep the temperature stable throughout the house. If you were to switch the heating off during the winter, there would be a significant delay before the house would be back up to a suitable temperature. HVO fuel has a slightly higher heating point, so you can turn the heating off and on, and bring the temperature back up comparatively quickly.

The problem with heat pumps

The government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy takes a ‘heat pump first’ approach and plans to phase out the installation of new fossil fuel boilers in off-grid homes and businesses from the mid-2020s. While newbuild properties are included in the plans, existing homes with gas boilers are not being targeted for another decade.

This delay is because it is counterproductive to install a heat pump in an inefficient building. Heat pumps present a huge challenge for many off-grid homes as many properties are old, large and poorly insulated. Heat pumps are most efficient when supplying heated water at fairly low temperatures, and may require additional underfloor heating downstairs and larger radiators to maintain a comfortable temperature.

65% of oil-heated homes fall in the lowest EPC Bands of E, F or G which means they are poorly insulated. So, whilst you can, in theory, install a heat pump in most buildings, it will take time for the technology to overcome the current issues of impracticality and high costs.

Requiring these properties to run on a heat pump is not very realistic from a cost perspective, or even particularly efficient. A survey carried out by OFTEC on 229 rural heating businesses found that only 20% of the homes they serve are currently suitable for a heat pump without energy efficiency improvements which can be extremely expensive.

According to government research, the cost to upgrade a home from Band E to C is £12,3000, and from Band F and G is £18,900. That’s not including the price to install the heat pump, adding another £11,000 on top, which will of course be unaffordable for many households.

While the government is offering grants of £5,000 to install heat pumps, the scheme is only open to domestic and small non-domestic properties with:

  • an installation capacity of up to 45kWth (this covers most homes)
  • a current energy performance certificate (EPC), with no outstanding recommendations for loft or cavity wall insulation

Therefore, the news that HVO fuel has finally been approved as a viable alternative is hugely welcomed by the industry and we are thrilled to have been a part in driving this forward. In short, HVO fuel ensures that rural homes are not being left behind in the drive to reduce the UK’s emissions.

Want to learn more about HVO fuel?

If you’re new to HVO fuel, we have written FAQs on this fully renewable liquid fuel that offers a much fairer and cost-effective heating solution for every off-grid home, supporting the decarbonisation change that is required. 

Switching to HVO fuel is simple, does not require an appliance change, and offers an immediate 90% net reduction in carbon emissions.

Read our HVO fuel FAQs >>

The only thing stopping many of these homes from transitioning to HVO fuel is the price point. It’s still an expensive fuel compared to kerosene; however, if the government were to lift the levies and duties associated with the fuel, it would open the market allowing fuel distributors to supply HVO fuel to these properties.

Keep an eye on our news pages for more about HVO fuel and our push to encourage greater incentives for users to adopt lower carbon fuels like HVO fuel.

Want to learn more about switching your heating oil to HVO fuel? Call our heating oil experts today on 0330 123 1444 to discuss your options and learn more about making the switch.

tonnes of net CO2 reduced across our transport fleet from using HVO

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