The flexible option

With liquefied petroleum gas (LPG ) offering a clean energy solution for businesses situated off the gas grid, Rob Shuttleworth explains how the industry is keeping pace with the latest energy efficient systems and fuel sources to ensure the long-term value of LPG for rural business customers

Sustainable energy has been widely adopted in rural communities but, while it may be clean and green, both wind and solar energy can be intermittent in nature. As a low carbon option which can work alongside other energy sources to guarantee an instant, consistent and reliable source of heat whatever the weather, LPG has more than 40 years of proven capability. Now, as technology and boilers advance, the readily available fuel not only hits the latest energy efficiency standards, it delivers significant carbon savings when compared to oil.

Renewables have enjoyed much of the limelight when it comes to clean energy, however, they don’t suit all environments and usage requirements, and need to be assessed in terms of compatibility for the type of applications they will be required to support. For business applications, reliability of supply is paramount and can sometimes rule out a renewable solution.

Although mostly used as the primary fuel for heat, as a cost-effective, more efficient alternative to oil, LPG’s reliability makes it the perfect partner for biomass systems. It allows businesses that are committed to moving to cleaner energy sources to opt for a low carbon, widely available fuel that can cut costs by up to 40 per cent and emissions by up to 50 per cent.

LPG provides consistent low carbon heat around the clock. This reliability makes it a great complementary fuel alongside other energy sources such as solar and wind, especially as energy storage solutions remain challenging for energy intensive businesses.

One example of this successful portfolio approach is a luxury resort in the Scottish Highlands that has been able to significantly reduce its emissions and energy costs after swapping its oil-fired heating system for a complete biomass and LPG solution.

The Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch installed a new biomass boiler and LPG system to meet its demanding two million kilowatt hours (kWh) space heating and hot water needs. With 32 guest suites, as well as its dining and leisure facilities, confidence in a reliable energy system no matter what the weather is fundamental to the running of the business.

The new system provides a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative to the previous kerosene-fired system – which was using more than 200,000 litres of oil every year – and formed part of a major refurbishment of the luxury time-share complex, where the high hot water demands of two indoor swimming pools, gym and spa, make up around 70 per cent of the facility’s total energy consumption.

A 199kW wood pellet boiler, 3000L buffer tank, pellet storage and chimney stack fulfils around 60 per cent of the resort’s annual heat demand. To provide the additional energy required, three existing oil boilers were converted to LPG to provide reliable energy when needed and to support the biomass system during peak season. The new system offers projected annual carbon savings of more than 65 per cent, with the promise of ongoing payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The biomass system has been installed in a timber-clad cabin on the site of the old kerosene oil tanks and uses insulated pipes to transport hot water to a plant room approximately 70m away in the main resort building, where the LPG boiler is also located. The on-site LPG tanks have been landscaped to ensure they fit unobtrusively with the surroundings. For ultimate ease, the complex is also benefiting from an automated fuel supply service which sends alerts directly to the supplier when supply drops below a certain level.

For off-gas grid businesses, security of energy supply is vital and as managers look to clean up their energy systems, the benefits of choosing low carbon fuels to meet high heat demand are on the rise. The combination of renewable energy, low carbon LPG and energy efficient commercial boilers is proving increasingly attractive for a wide range of business from food manufacturers through to spa complexes and the industry is seeing a rapid increase in the take up of LPG to meet future needs in a way that minimises carbon impact.

LPG behaves in the same way as natural gas making it compatible with all the latest commercial boiler technologies, while its availability, consistency and reliability is proving a real winner for businesses large and small across the UK as they look to future-proof their energy security. With LPG suppliers located throughout the country, each and every business is never too far from a local supplier with expert knowledge on a solution that links what is good for the environment with a guaranteed energy source.

Rob Shuttleworth is chief executive of UKLPG, the national trade association and voice of LPG within the UK, representing a membership of companies who are producers, distributors, equipment and service providers and vehicle converters. Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LP Gas, is a derivative of two large energy industries: natural gas processing and crude oil refining. It is used across the world as a source of energy for heating, cooking and vehicles. It is very clean burning and has lower greenhouse gas emissions than any other fossil fuel when measured on a total fuel cycle.

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