27 August 2021

Will biofuel replace oil heating and what could this mean for the supply chain?

With UK and Irish governments aiming to cut carbon emissions as part of their environmental strategies, many businesses and industries are looking at ways to support this goal. Within the fuel sector, oil heating is a big contributor to rising carbon emissions, and therefore climate change.

To reduce the current impact that oil heated properties are having, biofuels are being investigated to see if they are a suitable solution. Here, we explore biofuels and how they could impact the supply chain.

What is biofuel?

Biofuel is an alternative renewable energy source to fossil fuels, and are made from:

  • Plants
  • Animal materials
  • Waste oil

When used for heating households, biofuel can be a more cost-effective option to other green initiatives such as heat pumps which can be very expensive to install and run. Not only is biofuel a cheaper, eco-friendly alternative to heat pumps, it’s also possible to convert an oil boiler to support biofuel, potentially making it more accessible and cost effective.

How likely is it that biofuel will replace oil heating?

Very likely. In response to the governments’ green pledge, UK trade associations OFTEC, the Tank Storage Association (TSA) and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) have created a liquid biofuel supply chain strategy and taskforce to tackle rising carbon emissions by replacing oil with biofuels in an estimated 2.2 million homes in UK and Ireland. The taskforce has been brought in to work with other trade bodies and industry representatives to support the UK’s move to off grid heating. It will also help the government to maintain a technology-neutral approach and encourage other industries to find solutions.

How will biofuel affect the supply chain?

Part of the “Supply Chain Strategy for Liquid Fuels” sets out five challenges to the UK and Irish governments, including two challenges which discuss the impact of biofuels on the supply chain. One challenge is to prepare the supply chain to accept a 30% fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) / 70% kerosene blend fuel into existing installations by 2027.

To better understand handling, storage and combustion of non-fossil fuel blends, an industry-led field trial will build on the work previously undertaken by OFTEC and the University of East Anglia. Another challenge is to ensure the supply chain can accept a supply of low carbon (0% fossil) liquid fuel by 2035, following a full assessment of boiler and tank fleets.  

This also includes field trials of all potential future products which may come into the UK from other sources.

From the outlined challenges, it can be said that changing from oil to biofuel will impact the whole supply chain. With field trials still being conducted on handling, storage and combustion, as well as evaluations of boiler and tank fleets, more data will give the fuel industry a better insight into the impact biofuel will have on the supply chain.

Find out more 

If you would like to find out more about TouchStar’s current approach to digitalised logistics for oil and gas, contact us today. Our team of experts are on hand and more than happy to discuss key operational directives with you. 

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