Mitchell & Webber takes USA delivery

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UK receives first renewable liquid fuel shipment from America. L-R: Peter Kinney (senior commercial sales manager, Valero), David McLoughlin (director pipelines & terminals, Valero), John Weedon (director, Mitchell & Webber), Robert Weedon (MD, Mitchell & Webber)

Scorrier-based heating oil supplier Mitchell & Webber has taken the first lifting of USA imported hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) at the Valero terminal in Cardiff.

This follows a decision by the then Department of International Trade in November 2022 to lift import tariffs on US HVO, previously imposed when the UK was a member of the European Union, recognising that HVO could be used in a number of different decarbonisation pathways, including home heating.

The UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) and OFTEC, representing the liquid fuel industry, proposed an innovative approach that will deliver decarbonisation to UK 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 that HVO can be used as a direct replacement for heating oil, reducing carbon emissions by up to 88%. The heating boiler conversion process takes about an hour and costs less than £500.

Cornwall has been leading the way in the push for HVO, with Mitchell & Webber running a successful trial in Kehelland.

MD Robert Weedon said: “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.”

Ken Cronin, CEO of UKIFDA, added: “I am delighted to see this fuel being delivered.  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 decarbonisation technologies such as heat pumps.”

UKIFDA recently submitted new evidence to the UK Government that showed the raw materials (feedstocks) used to produce renewable fuels in Europe and the US far outweigh the demand and confirmed that there would be sufficient quantities to meet the UK home heating oil market.

The US is the world’s second largest producer of HVO, with the US Department of Energy recently forecasting that renewable fuel production will double in the US 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 plant to produce this fuel.