Cornish village offers a blueprint for rural decarbonisation 

Cornish village offers a blueprint for rural decarbonisation 

A new project, converting a rural coastal village in Cornwall’s heating to run off Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), has shown how renewable liquid fuels can offer a low cost, undisruptive and simple pathway for hundreds of thousands of rural homes to decarbonise their heating systems. 

Over the course of 18 months, 17 homes as well as the local church and school, in the village of Kehelland, participated in a scheme run by industry trade bodies UKIFDA and OFTEC, alongside UKIFDA member Mitchell & Webber, to convert their kerosene heating oil-using boilers to use HVO. The Kehelland demonstration was part of a larger project covering 150 premises across the UK. 

OFTEC and UKIFDA CEOs Paul Rose and Ken Cronin said the demonstrator shows: “there is an alternative way forward for millions of off grid residents who can neither afford nor want to install a heat pump. This report shows there is a clear blueprint for these households to decarbonise their home heating.” 

The project found that the upfront cost of converting the oil boiler to run on HVO was £500 per property, while the emissions from the properties were calculated as c.88% reduced compared to kerosene. 

It also found that only minor modifications to the heating system were required, conversion took just an hour per property and could be done as part of the annual service. 

For the Kehelland experience to become a reality for millions more off grid residents, OFTEC and UKIFDA are calling for the UK Government to make two straightforward policy changes which they say could be made now, by amending the Energy Bill, as it completes its legislative stages in Parliament: 

– Create a Renewable Liquid Heating Fuel Obligation (RLHFO) which would mirror, for home heating, the current provisions within the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which creates a price reduction for HVO to end users of vehicles, mobile machinery and aircraft; and 

– Bring the fuel duty rate of HVO for heating in line with that of kerosene heating oil, as the cost to the consumer of HVO is currently over twice that of kerosene heating oil. This change would be cost neutral for the Government. 

Under current Government proposals, residents in off gas grid properties who rely on heating oil will be subject to a ban from 2026 on new and replacement fossil fuel appliances.  

The Chief Executives of OFTEC and UKIFDA, Paul Rose and Ken Cronin, went on to say: “The Kehelland model proves there is space in our country’s low-carbon future for a wide variety of solutions, from heat pumps to HVO. However, we would like to see a recognition from the Government that a heat pump-first approach removes choice, adds cost and will leave rural communities disadvantaged. Decarbonisation can be achieved more quickly, and in a fairer and more equitable manner, simply by giving consumers the power to choose.” 

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