Calor, an SHV Energy company and the UK’s leading supplier of LPG, has become the first energy company to supply BioLPG to homes and businesses across Britain. On 16 March, SHV Energy received the first delivery of BioLPG (biopropane) from the Neste Biofuels production facility in Rotterdam. (Earlier post.) This represented the start of the first large scale distribution of BioLPG in the world.
Propane-rich off-gas is produced during Neste’s NExBTL renewable diesel process; the gas is usually recovered during the Stabilization and Recycle stages of the process. Usually, the propane off-gas from the Recycle section is used in the steam methane reformer (SMR) plant for the production of hydrogen and the propane off-gas from the Stabilization section is used in a natural gas boiler to raise process steam. The bio-propane production process increases the added value of this sidestream significantly.
BioLPG is Calor’s first renewable product offering that sees the company commit to reducing its carbon footprint and to become fully renewable by 2040.
LPG, typically used for heating off the gas grid, transport and industrial applications, is already a flexible, low-carbon fuel compared to other fossil fuels. BioLPG is identical to conventional LPG, so it can be blended, stored and used as a drop-in replacement for all existing applications with no modification.
BioLPG can reduce carbon emissions by up to 88% over conventional LPG depending on the feedstock used, according to the UK government. Modelling by Calor shows that more than 180,000 rural off-gas grid homes could be heated using BioLPG by 2030 if additional domestic sources of supply are developed, helping the government to achieve its carbon emission targets.
The UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy outlines ambitious new policies to phase out the use of high carbon fossil fuels such as heating oil and coal typically used off the gas grid for domestic heat during the 2020s. As part of this, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has recently published a consultation on a future framework for heat in buildings which has called for leadership from the off-gas grid heating industry to bring about the transformational shift required to change the way homes are heated. BioLPG (biopropane) is referenced in the consultation as a potential pathway to achieving decarbonization off the gas grid.
Calor is currently exploring domestic sources of production as the majority of BioLPG production pathways lend themselves to local production facilities located in the off-gas grid market such as anaerobic digestion or production based on the processing of household waste. This would facilitate the decentralization of energy provision and bring production much closer to areas of demand.
The SHV Energy companies Primagaz and Calor will be responsible for marketing and distributing Neste BioLPG within their respective markets. The countries where customers will initially be able to buy BioLPG are: Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Belgium.
BioLPG is a drop-in replacement for conventional LPG, so consumers can use exactly the same LPG appliances and vehicles that are widely available throughout Europe. However, the biggest environmental gain from the use of this very low carbon, clean fuel is when it replaces solid and liquid fuels such as coal and heating oil. For example, in Europe there are around 40 million households in rural areas beyond the gas grid. Millions of them currently rely on aging heating oil and central heating systems. If 1 million of them switched to using BioLPG, it would save 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions—that’s the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road.