Renewable heat

A Norfolk town is hosting the world’s first trial of renewable heating oil that can be used in existing boilers.

Local schools and homes in the small town of Reepham are taking part in the 12-month trial, which is being led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The fuel being used is sustainable biodiesel manufactured from used vegetable oil and tallow by Argent Energy of Scotland. The biodiesel is stored in Norfolk and blended with conventional heating oil by Pace Fuelcare of King’s Lynn, which delivers the fuel to the properties.

Partners in the project are UEA’s Low Carbon Innovation Centre, Norfolk County Council, local entrepreneur Andrew Robertson of Clean Energy Consultancy, and the two bodies that represent the oil heating industry in the UK and Ireland – the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) and the Industrial Commercial Energy Association (ICOM).

‘This is a major initiative in developing lower-carbon heating options for millions of properties, especially in rural areas, which depend on oil-fired heating,’ said project manager Dr Bruce Tofield of UEA’s Low Carbon Innovation Centre.

Around 30 properties in the north Norfolk town (including both the primary and the secondary school) are taking part in the trials, which started in December.

Jeremy Hawksley, director general of OFTEC, said: ‘Results from the field trials have been extremely encouraging to date. The project has also been well supported by many OFTEC manufacturing members who are conducting their own field trials alongside this project.

‘Having a liquid biofuel that is interchangeable with domestic heating oil means that around 1.9 million households in the UK and Ireland will be able to use renewable technology to heat their homes, with very few modifications to their existing heating systems.’