LPG is a by-product of refining oil or natural gas. Because it comes from fossil fuel it is often associated with all the negative environmental and supply security characteristics of petrol. However it should be viewed as a totally separate power supply with its own distinct characteristics. When LPG is analysed objectivity it stands up to alternative power sources well both in terms of price and emissions.
LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas but it is also called propane or butane. It is very clean burning – producing virtually no particulates or sulphur and because it is a gas there is no risk of spills polluting ground water. Because it can be stored and transported relatively easily it is a popular choice for rural heating in locations with no connection to an electrical or gas grid or where these power sources are expensive. LPG has the added benefit of being able to power combined energy systems that produce both heat and electricity.
Europe produces its own LPG from natural gas extracted across the continent. An additional source is the continents petroleum refineries. The supply of LPG from these sources outstrips demand and forecasts show that this situation will not change in the foreseeable future. What this means is the supply of LPG is safe and secure and prices are less likely to fluctuate wildly. LPG is delivered via road either as replaceable tanks or a tanker will refill an on-site fixed storage tank. It is important to consider the security of your local supply. Are their suppliers in your area that deliver regulary and do they supply the right sized bottles or use a tanker that can access your home and it’s access roads?
Although LPG is a fossil fuel its emissions are very different from coal or oil. The CO2 released when it is burned is significantly less than that produced by coal and oil and less than 50% of that generated by coal fired power stations that feed the national grid.
Source: DEFRA & the Nottingham Energy Partnership
Price & Energy Density
One of the common myths is that LPG is expensive. However numerous independent analyses have shown that this is not the case, its price is comparable to alternatives and a number of other factors make LPG desirable. LPG is very energy dense meaning a small volume can produce a great deal of power. This is important for home owners because it means it is easy to find the space needed for storage. For example it’s energy density is four times that of logs. For comparisons of energy sources calorific values and energy densities please refer to this table. So if you use LPG, less fuel needs to be consumed to heat your home — especially when used with a new LPG boiler. Newer boilers take advantage of technological innovation to increase efficiency. Practically this means you can use a smaller strage tank which can be screened more easily and costs less to fill.
Need To Switch Fuel Type Or Supplier
Sadly most of the large energy comparison websites like uswtich and moneysupermarket do not cover LPG suppliers so finding suppliers and comparing them can be hard. One of the most helpful websites we found was the UK LPG Trade Association which will give you a list of suppliers in your area. It also provides a lot of information about tanks, boilers and the energy and emissions of the fuel.
If you don’t currently use LPG shop around to find a supplier that is offering some start up incentives. Not only will this save you money but it will mean that an expert will fit the right equipment safely saving you a lot of research.