Is LPG being phased out for caravans?

Tuesday 2nd April 2024

Find out how renewable liquid gases provide the caravan sector with low carbon heating options in the face of decarbonisation.

With its portability, clean-burning and instant heat, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) is the current fuel of choice for the leisure, caravan and park home sector, but as we look to a Net Zero world, many wonder what the future holds for this popular off-grid gas. In this blog, following our address at the 2024 British Holiday & Home Parks Association conference, we share updates on industry progress towards renewable liquid gases (RLGs) and their pivotal role in decarbonising caravans and park homes.

What is LPG and why is it popular for caravans?

Historically, LPG has been the preferred choice of fuel for heating and hot water in caravans and park homes, due its portability, convenience, quick heating capabilities, and widespread availability.

The gas is commonly known as one of the two forms it is available in – propane and butane – with both being more naturally suited to different uses. Read more about the differences here: The difference between butane and propane | Calor

Available in portable cylinders or bulk tanks, LPG is equally suited to cooking and heating applications in touring and leisure vehicles, and for providing an on-site, on-demand fuel source for static park homes and communal buildings.  

However, with the UK Government’s ambition to decarbonise the UK across all sectors, and with the long-term direction of travel for oil and natural gas extraction declining, the LPG industry will need to find suitable ‘green’ alternatives to LPG to serve the caravan sector.

Significant strides are already underway across the LPG industry to pivot to sustainable, low carbon options, but first we examine the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.   

Why is decarbonisation challenging for the caravaning sector?

It is recognised that electrified heating and hot water systems, including heat pumps, will be a solution for some (but not all) bricks and mortar homes and businesses, however, these heating systems pose significant feasibility issues for park homes and caravan owners.

Often the system will need to be permanently fitted to a building and is likely to be incredibly costly to install with adequate insulation upgrades. Furthermore, they require a reliable electricity source to run efficiently.

Switching to mains electricity is possible for cooking and heating in caravans, but many rural sites have unreliable grid connections that may not be able to cope with increased demand. And, while portable battery technology has improved in recent years, electric hook up is often not feasible or adequate for meeting the needs camping and off-grid leisure activities.

Electricity prices remain high, which is also another motivating factor for the sector’s affinity for gas-fired heating solutions.

Therefore, there is a significant need for suitable low carbon heating solutions for the caravaning sector, while retaining the convenience of gas.

Powering the caravan heating revolution with renewable liquid gases (RLGs)

The LPG industry is committed to transition to 100% renewable sources and has a clear pathway to achieve this by 2040.

As the sector looks towards developing low carbon heating options in line with this vision, two forms of renewable liquid gases (RLGs) emerge as promising solutions for the caravaning sector: bioLPG and renewable dimethyl-ether (rDME).

BioLPG and rDME are chemically identical to LPG and are considered a ‘drop-in’ solution made from a diverse mix of sustainable biological feedstocks and processes, including domestic or agricultural waste, energy crops, or recycled carbon.

Offering up to 90% reductions in carbon emissions, renewable liquid gases carry the same low nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter as conventional LPG, contributing to cleaner air quality. Learn more about how bioLPG and rDME are made.

In many instances these renewable liquid gases can be used as a seamless replacement for traditional LPG with little modification required, working with existing tanks, heating systems and appliances, saving customers money.

Government support for renewable liquid gases

Renewable liquid gases were recently included in the UK Biomass Strategy, a transformative document shaping the future of the renewable energy landscape, to decarbonise off-grid heating.

The strategy represents over a decade of evolving energy policies, reflecting a shift from an electrification-only stance from Government, to recognising biofuels – including renewable liquid gases, like bioLPG and rDME - as viable alternatives for hard to heat, hard to treat sectors and applications.

With over £600 million planned investment up to 2025 into developing these gases, our progress is paving the way for a sustainable and reliable energy future for caravan and park home residents.

Supporting the adoption of renewable liquid gases and low carbon heating systems for caravans

The challenge that decarbonisation will bring for the caravaning sector, and the strive for practical solutions, is an opinion shared across the industry.

Chris Goggin, Operations Director from the appliance manufacturer, Rinnai UK, says that an electrification-first approach will be difficult to implement in the caravaning sector as there are wider considerations around the fabric, storage space and energy efficiency of buildings when discussing decarbonising the caravaning sector.  

“Some caravan sites are located in coastal areas, others are incredibly remote, off the beaten track, and there's just not that local or national power infrastructure to meet demand,” he explains.

“Many caravan sites also use copious amounts of hot water so when we're talking about electrification, it isn’t just for heat to raise the ambient temperature, but also for heating hot water and ablution blocks.

“It’s not all just about the realms of economic feasibility, but also the practical, economic and technical feasibility of any heating and hot water solutions utilised by any site,” he adds.

“At Rinnai, we support a mixed technology approach, with electrification options such as heat pumps, solar thermal and renewable fuels all having a major role to play in the decarbonisation of buildings and caravans.

“But we must be realistic and pragmatic in that approach because electrification isn't going to do everything.

“When you consider the practical, economic and technical feasibility, we need to supply a mix of solutions that suits the nuances of the sites that exist today.

“For that reason, we’re pleased with the work we've done in the UK and the introduction of rDME into our testing and development programme.

“We’re committed to bringing to market a mixed range of technologies, including advanced developments in rDME, that consider practical, economic and technical feasibility to ensure consumers have a mix of heating and hot water solutions available to them,” says Mr Goggin.

Will LPG be phased out for caravans?

LPG will not be phased out for caravans imminently; instead, the sector is evolving towards a renewable future, supported by efforts from industry partners.

In the immediate term, customers can continue to enjoy the convenience of LPG while the industry ramps up domestic renewable liquid gas production.

BioLPG is readily available, marketed under branded names from suppliers. Both bioLPG and rDME can be blended with conventional LPG, therefore, customers interested in switching to greener alternatives can contact their supplier to enquire about moving to these low carbon options.

Meanwhile, tests are ongoing to determine optimal RLG-LPG blends and initiatives to demonstrate the long-term availability of sustainable feedstock are underway. There are promising industry developments on the horizon: Dimeta is advancing the construction of its first-of-a-kind waste-to-rDME facility in Teesside, set to produce 60,000 tonnes of the gas annually, meeting 25% of the UK's LPG demand.

Meanwhile, the FloGas Avonmouth terminal is set to play a key role in the transition to RLGs, bolstering the UK's renewable liquid gas supply and future global access via an underground pipeline connecting the Avonmouth terminal to Bristol Port. The industry is also collaborating on a new Public Available Standard (PAS) to certify the testing, safety, and design of rDME-fired and rDME-LPG blended appliances to open the commercial market for these low carbon heating appliances.

These initiatives will ensure greater security and diversity of supply, marking a significant step towards greener alternatives and a bright future for LPG in the caravan sector.

To find out more about renewable liquid gases for caravans, visit

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