MPs to hear plan to get rural households to run heating on vegetable oil

George Eustice says adapted kerosene boilers can run on ‘hydro-treated vegetable oil’ and cut emissions by 88%

A proposal to incentivise households in rural areas to run their heating systems on vegetable oil is to be put to parliament.

The former environment secretary George Eustice will introduce a bill proposing the removal of duties on renewable liquid heating fuels and incentives to replace kerosene in existing boilers.

It is estimated there are 1.7m UK households in rural communities using kerosene boilers. Under government plans, homes with “off-grid” gas connections will be banned from buying replacement boilers from 2026 and instead expected to install air source or ground source heat pump systems.

But Eustice, the Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, will on Wednesday argue in parliament that the costs involved in installing heat pumps in older rural properties present a “huge barrier”. Instead, Eustice said, kerosene oil boilers can run on “hydro-treated vegetable oil” (HVO) with a “minor adaptation” and reduce related greenhouse gas emissions by 88%.

Eustice told the Guardian: “The government has pursued a heat-pump-first strategy but the cost to some households is prohibitively expensive, and will create a whole new industry of patching up old boilers. A good option is being overlooked here in favour of the best option, but if emissions can be reduced significantly and quickly it makes sense.”

Eustice has called for an extension of the Renewable Transport Fuel
Obligation that requires major fuel manufacturers or importers to purchase a proportion of their fuel from renewable sources. Eustice wants to see the system, which in effect subsidises renewable fuel, extended to suppliers of fuel for homes.

He hopes there will be an amendment to the energy bill, which sets out large-scale changes for the industry and is being scrutinised by the House of Lords.

Eustice said: “This system means less waste of resources because the fuel can run on existing boilers and central heating infrastructure with a simple, low-cost adaptation to the boiler.”

Consumers with off-grid heating voiced concerns over the sharp rise in energy bills last year. Households in Great Britain using alternative fuels such as biomass or heating oil have been offered a £200 “alternative fuel payment”, which was announced in December.

• This article was amended on 11 January 2023 to remove a mistaken reference to alternative fuel households as having received a £400 discount on their bills last year.


Alex Lawson

The GuardianTramp

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