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‘Homes heated by recycled cooking oil’ and other energy predictions for the 2020s

Feb 24, 2020, 16:39 PM by OFTEC
As tackling climate change remains an important issue on the government’s agenda, industry experts have outlined the 5 ways new technologies will impact how households live and work over the next ten years.

The energy predictions follow the government’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 which will require changes to how we heat our homes.

Published by OFTEC, the trade association for the oil heating industry, the five trends households should expect to see over the coming years include:

Cooking up renewable fuels at home

  • There are currently 1.53 million oil heated homes in the UK that are not connected to the gas grid. These homes could switch to a renewable low carbon oil blend made from recycled cooking oils, fats and greases with minimal disruption. This green ‘biofuel’ could play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions and provide a long term, practical and cost-effective solution for heating off-gas grid homes. Real world testing of the fuel is already underway and it is hoped that a 100% fossil-free liquid biofuel will be available by 2035.

Electric cars continue to accelerate

  • Despite initial skepticism when the first mainstream electric vehicles were released ten years ago, things have moved on considerably. Technology continues to evolve rapidly and, following the government’s announcement that new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles can’t be sold from 2035, a significant increase in electric cars on UK roads is expected over the coming years – there are already more charging stations than petrol stations in the UK*.

Smart heating systems get smarter

  • As well as heating our homes with more environmentally friendly fuels, new technologies will help us become more efficient and reduce the 65.9 million tonnes of carbon produced by UK residential properties each year**. Controlling heating from smartphones is becoming more mainstream and new AI technologies, which detect when we are home and monitor our daily routines, will further optimise our energy use.

Savvy switching

  • New regulations have made switching energy supplier easier and the bills we receive much clearer. Oil heated homes can already benefit from shopping around for the best price through online price comparison websites but general increased consumer awareness will make this the norm. The number of smart meters installed will also continue to increase, giving consumers greater insight into their energy consumption.

Time out of the office

  • Many organisations are already committed to playing their part in tackling climate change. As new technologies such as faster full-fibre broadband and 5G mobile connectivity become more widespread, we may see more companies offering employees flexible working. This could include more home working and organising conference calls instead of face to face meetings to reduce unnecessary travel.

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, commented: "The 2020s are set to be another decade of significant change as we tackle the important issue of climate change. However, solutions must be practical and realistic to ensure households don’t face huge unfair costs or disruption. For oil-heated homes, the most effective way to reduce emissions is to ‘green the fuel’ with a drop-in low carbon replacement, whilst continuing to use the existing boiler and oil storage tank.

"We’ll also likely see electric cars and smarter heating technologies become more mainstream, providing another important piece of the puzzle in reducing emissions. To be successful, the government must be open to new ideas and technologies which are practical and affordable to ensure consumers get on board with the changes necessary to their homes and workplaces to achieve net zero emissions."

*The Independent, August 2019

**BEIS, 2018 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Provisional Figures), 2018

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