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Rural homes in Suffolk could be heated by vegetable oil within five years, says industry report

PUBLISHED: 20:26 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 20:26 24 October 2017

Malcolm Farrow from Oftec. Picture: GENESIS PR

Malcolm Farrow from Oftec. Picture: GENESIS PR

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More than 34,000 homes in Suffolk could be heated by vegetable oil within the next five years, according to a new report by industry experts.

Oil heating is currently one of the most popular choices for people living off the gas grid in the county, but a new report suggests a switch to a renewable alternative, such as a vegetable oil blend, could happen as early as 2022.

The report by Oftec, the trade association for the oil and heating industry, says the ‘biofuel’ could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions as well as providing a sustainable solution for rural heating across Suffolk.

Malcolm Farrow, from Oftec, said: “Oil heating is incredibly popular in Suffolk due to its low price and flexibility.

“But we are all being encouraged to take steps to reduce our carbon emissions and, although it may sound strange, vegetable oil could be the key.

“Switching oil using homes to a biofuel, which blends a small amount of kerosene with vegetable oil or an oil derived from waste products, represents the best of both worlds.

“Households could continue to enjoy the benefits of a liquid fuel, such as topping up when they want and shopping around for the best price, while also drastically cutting their carbon emissions.

“For households, adopting this biofuel would be relatively simple as the fuel can be stored in existing oil tanks and would only require a minor boiler adjustment which could be completed during an annual standard service.”

Other renewable heating technologies currently available for rural homes, such as air source heat pumps and solar thermal, have seen limited take-up due to high upfront installation costs, as well as the significant disruption involved, according to Oftec.

Mr Farrow said: “We are going through a period of significant change in the way we consume energy, from the move towards electric cars for transport to renewable sources of heating.

“However, when it comes to keeping warm, homes in Suffolk only have the option of expensive and impractical renewable technologies at the moment.

“Biofuels could represent a viable option to help rural homes reduce carbon emissions. We have presented detailed proposals to local MPs and government and will shortly begin real world testing.”

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