Three trade associations, one common goal…

As we move to deliver a low carbon liquid fuel, we recognise that burning the fuel is only one piece of the jigsaw. The product has to be stored, transported and distributed to the end user. In Ireland, that’s where UKIFDA and FFI come into play.

UKIFDA is the UK & Ireland Fuel Distributors Association representing the many hundreds of oil distributors up and down the country who deliver the current home heat product, kerosene, to users. FFI is Fuels for Ireland, a trade association that represents the major oil importers in the Republic. Both have a vital role to play as we plan to bring a new fuel to market.

The good news is that, at a local level, all three trade associations are already working together and meet weekly under the group name of ‘Low Carbon Liquid Fuels’. The group consists of, David Blevings (OFTEC), Kevin McPartlan (FFI) and Nick Hayes (UKIFDA). Assisting the group is Gerry Treacy who is working on behalf of OFTEC and networking with liquid fuel distributors.

Detailed study
The group has recently commissioned AECOM to carry out a detailed study of the Irish home heating sector and to make recommendations on the role that biofuels could play to reduce carbon emissions in this sector.

As an industry we are looking at current and next generation biofuels as a drop-in, viable replacement fuel for kerosene. We have already seen good results with FAME and currently boiler and tank manufacturers are conducting their own trials on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

The AECOM report is hugely important and will clearly show that low carbon fuels (bioliquids) can be used as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for kerosene and substantially reduce emissions with minimal capital cost for consumers.

The report will verify what we already know about biofuels and, looking specifically at HVO, we know that this fuel can reduce carbon heating-related emissions from an oil-fired dwelling by 85%*. Armed with this data we can lobby government to have bioliquids included in any future amendment to the Climate Action Plan.

Climate change
Our timing is excellent as a recent court decision quashed the Republic’s government’s 2017 National Mitigation Plan. In August 2020, judges ruled that the plan did not give enough detail on the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The plaintiffs argued that the Irish government had a responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the next couple of years or face the serious impacts of climate change. They contended the increase in greenhouse gas emissions allowed in the 2017 National Mitigation Plan was contrary to the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act. These pieces of legislation make it a requirement to have a published plan for transitioning to a low carbon, climate resilient, and environmentally stable economy by 2050. The unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court ruled that more specificity was needed about how objectives laid out in the 2015 legislation were going to be met by 2050.

So, this is good news for our sector as the Irish government has already said it will miss the 2020 targets and will be keen to secure ‘extra’ savings wherever they can. That’s where biofuels come in!

In 2017, emissions from oil heated homes were running at a level of 1,055 kTCO2 equivalent. If all 686,000 oil heated homes moved to 100% HVO, that would be reduced by 85% to 158 kTCO2 equivalent – a HUGE reduction and one the Government should welcome with open arms! Once they’ve made the required policy commitments for bioliquids, industry will be able to progress with projects to scale up production and resolve the distribution challenges.

* Note: The Kerosene emission factor in the Republic of Ireland is some 9% lower than that in the UK, hence the carbon emission reduction figure of 85% in the Republic differs from the 91% achievable in the UK. (DEAP vs SAP)