This is the introduction to a series of blog posts that will explore the carbon emission benefits of integrating liquid biofuels in residential heating into the national supply chain in the United States.
The next blog post will outline the overall benefits of biofuel use in residential home heating, while the subsequent posts will give a summary of the programs that currently exist in each state to incentivize the use of biofuels in home heating as it pertains to greenhouse gas reduction.
The United States has set greenhouse gas reduction goals that are rapidly approaching. In the Paris Agreement, the United States has set goals to reduce carbon emissions from their 2005 levels by 28% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. One avenue that has not been recognized yet by legislators in the energy sector is the method that I would argue is the most viable, liquid biofuels.
What are Liquid Biofuels?
Liquid biofuels consist of an organic waste feedstock, e.g. used cooking oil, or a virgin oil, e.g. canola or soybean oil. The heating oil industry has set goals for a B50 (50% heating oil, 50% biofuel) by 2030 and a net carbon zero fuel by 2050. A B50 will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 40%. Given those carbon reduction statistics, it’s clear that the integration of liquid biofuels will assist the United States in meeting their 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emission goals. The other important consideration is the viability of integrating liquid biofuels into the national supply chain in the United States. When taking a brief look at another solution legislators have begun to incentivize, heat pumps, the roadblocks the end-user will face are evident. For a homeowner to convert to a heat pump system, the cost would be roughly $15,000-$30,000 a system. That is a very expensive conversion and would alienate homeowners with low-socioeconomic status and impede on progress in meeting the 2030 and 2050 goals. On the other hand, the cost of delivering liquid biofuels to an end-user would be minimal at B50. At a net zero carbon fuel, there would need to be adjustments made to the end-user’s boiler, but that cost would also be minimal.
In the next blog, I will explore the details of implementing liquid biofuels into the national supply chain and compare the carbon reduction and economics of other technologies.
Joseph Uglietto is the President of Diversified Energy Specialists, Inc., a New England based energy credit trading and consulting corporation.