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UK receives 1st renewable diesel shipment from US


The U.K. and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association announced April 6 that its member, Mitchell and Webber, undertook the first lifting of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), also referred to as renewable diesel, imported from the U.S. March 30 at the Valero terminal in Cardiff.

This follows a decision by the Department of International Trade in November to lift import tariffs on U.S. HVO, previously imposed when the U.K. was a member of the European Union, recognizing that HVO could be used in a number of different decarbonization pathways, including home heating.

UKIFDA and the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), representing the liquid-fuel industry, proposed an innovative approach that will deliver decarbonization to U.K. off gas-grid homes and businesses quicker, cheaper and with the least amount of disruption, compared to the government’s announced proposals to stop new heating-oil boiler sales by 2026 with a heat-pump-first approach.

The industry has demonstrated across 150 homes and businesses in the U.K. that HVO can be used as a direct replacement for heating oil, reducing carbon emissions by up to 88 percent.

The process of converting heating boilers to run on HVO takes about an hour and costs less than £500 (USD$621).

“I am delighted to see this fuel being delivered,” said Ken Cronin, CEO of UKIFDA. “We have an ambition to convert as many of the 1.7 million homes as possible that use heating oil to HVO, reducing their carbon emissions but also avoiding the very high upfront costs of alternative decarbonization technologies such as heat pumps.”

Robert Weedon, managing director of Cornwall-based Mitchell and Webber, added, “This first batch of Valero’s HVO will be going to businesses in Cornwall. This initiative sits alongside our HVO village, Kehelland, where we have schools, churches and residential homes that have been using HVO successfully for over a year. The process of converting to HVO could not be easier and can be done during a normal boiler-service appointment.”

UKIFDA recently submitted new evidence to the U.K. government that showed the feedstocks used to produce renewable fuels in Europe and the U.S. far outweigh the demand and confirmed that there would be sufficient quantities to meet the U.K. home heating-oil market.

The U.S. is the world’s second largest producer of HVO, with the U.S. DOE recently forecasting that renewable fuel production will double in the U.S. in the next two years.

Renewable liquid fuels are termed drop-in fuels, as they do not need to be blended with petroleum to meet engine- or boiler-manufacturer requirements.

The raw materials such as used cooking oil and animal fats are refined in a very similar way to crude oil, with many refineries globally now converting manufacturing plants to produce this fuel.


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