New research demonstrates key role for LPG in decarbonising large, rural off-grid homes

Tuesday 17th November 2020

Exclusive new research from leading energy experts Ecuity, commissioned by Liquid Gas UK, demonstrates a key role for LPG in reducing emissions from over 227,000 large, rural off-grid homes in Great Britain currently using heating oil.

Building upon previous research which found that a mixed technology approach to decarbonising rural off-grid homes saved over £7bn compared to taking a 100% electrification route, Ecuity explored the options for decarbonising a key, hard-to-treat sector of rural housing stock. Analysis of the low-carbon options included LPG to bioLPG boiler, Air Source Heat Pump, LPG Hybrid Heat Pump and Biomass Boiler, looking at the costs and considerations for each.

Using real EPC data, ‘Conwy Cottage’ a home that falls into a category of 227,000 similar houses. A single-family, detached home built before 1945 with solid walls, and little to no fabric efficiency renovations. Heating with an oil boiler in these homes emits the equivalent of driving 37,000 miles in the average petrol car per year.

The research found that as this group of homes are harder-to-retrofit and full of historic character, they aren’t suited to electrification. Without retrofit, the heat pump solution would cost over £16,000 more than the LPG to bioLPG solution, however it’s clear that in more energy efficient, newer homes – heat pumps have a key role to play as part of the mix of solutions needed to meet Net Zero.

Biomass was also considered, however it comes with a very high-upfront cost, circa £16,000, and has also been shown to create high-levels of air pollution, which in this case would result in air quality damage equivalent to £831 more than staying with oil, compared to £42 less than a switch to LPG.

BioLPG was found to be the most cost effective solution for transitioning large, rural homes away from heating oil, offering the same high-temperature heating that the household is used to. The household can use the existing infrastructure, meaning very little upfront cost and a far cheaper option over a 15-year period than the other solutions, not forgetting in line with carbon reduction ambitions.

One thing is clear, we have to take a mixed approach to decarbonising rural homes across the UK – there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach nor is there a silver bullet, instead we must provide a variety of solutions for different types of homes. While heat pumps will play a key role in more energy efficient housing stock and newer builds, LPG and bioLPG can support the harder-to-heat homes on their low-carbon journey.

For more information, please download the full report and summary.

The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK