LPG's winning ways...
Recent studies have, according to Calor, highlighted the positive impact liquid petroleum gas can have when replacing oil as a commercial heating fuel in rural areas
A new study by the NIFES Consulting Group for lpg supplier Calor assesses the annual energy and carbon savings that might be achieved by the replacement of an existing oil-fired boiler installed in 1996 with a new condensing LPG boiler in a rural hotel. A hotel was selected as representative of a typical commercial property in a rural location.
It was assumed that the new plant would be connected to an existing wet heating system. The study found that, by replacing an old oil heating system with lpg, a building's CO2 emissions could be cut by 22 per cent, while typical energy savings of 11 per cent were possible.
A second NIFES report showed that installing lpg heating in domestic new build developments could save as much as £4,500 in the build cost of each dwelling.
Finally, a further study, carried out by Atlantic Consulting, compared the carbon footprint of typical European dwellings - one using oil for heating, the other LPG - over 17 years.
Lower carbon footprint
'We found that in the LPG dwelling the carbon footprint of the heating system, over its 17-year lifetime, was about 20 per cent lower than an equivalent system fuelled by heating oil,' said the report's author, Eric Johnson.
The Atlantic Consulting study also compared a domestic LPG heating system with bio heating oil - assumed to be a blend of 80 per cent conventional diesel and 20 per cent bio diesel. This comparison looked at the same typical domestic dwelling over a 17-year lifetime and found that, when these two systems were compared, lpg still had a 15 per cent lower carbon footprint.
And while data collected by the European Commission shows that there's little to choose between the cost of lpg and heating oil, Mr Johnson suggests that there are several reasons why LPG might become cheaper than heating oil in the future.
'We've seen that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has revolutionised the markets for natural gas and lpg in the United States. Eight years ago the prices for gas peaked at $10 per million BTUs in the American market. Now it is just $2 per million BTUs. We could see similar price differences in Europe if fracking ramps up the way it has done in America.'
He also points to an abundance of natural gas and LPG coming on stream in some of the Gulf States.
'That will bring a new source of supply that should push prices down.'
A further advantage of an LPG heating system is the ease with which it can be integrated with renewable technology, says Calor.
For example, an lpg heating system can easily be integrated alongside a solar thermal or PV installation to supply what Calor says is a reliable, year-round back up.
LPG offers versatility
'There is no doubt that renewable technology will play an increasingly important role in the supply of energy to homes and businesses right across the UK,' said Paul Riding, Calor's head of innovation. 'However, the integration of lpg-fuelled heating systems with renewable technologies is the most realistic way forward.
With its lower carbon footprint when compared to both oil and electricity, lpg offers a cleaner burning fuel and has the versatility to integrate with renewables and low carbon technologies.'
'The important thing to remember is the integration of renewable and low carbon technologies is possible in non-mains areas and lpg is the ideal complement to such technologies as a means to help reduce carbon emissions and save on fuel bills.'
// Copies of the Atlantic Consulting report 'Carbon footprints of heating oil and LPG heating systems' can be purchased from sciencedirect.com //
7 October 2012