Rapeseed oil fuels energy revolution

A new four-star hotel and local schools and offices are some of the buildings benefitting from low carbon energy produced from rapeseed oil.

Lincolnshire-based company, LowC Communities Ltd, has developed a combined heat and power system using locally-grown rapeseed oil to provide low-carbon electricity, heating and hot water.

LowC Communities works with local famers to produce the crops. The production has benefitted farmers by providing another source of income.

The rapeseed is produced as a non-food variety while resting agricultural land. Once harvested, the seeds are crushed to extract oil, which is then filtered to remove impurities. The oil produces completely renewable fuel.

Waste is reduced as the residual crushed seeds can also be used for animal feed or solid biofuel for heating and the whole process is low carbon.

LowC works with the Phoenix Group to produce the oil. Managing director of Phoenix, Ben Guy, said: “There’s full traceability for the oil – we can tell a customer what field it has come from – even down to the date of harvest.

“This is important as we can prove its provenance and that it is a completely natural, unmodified fuel.”

“It’s worth noting that this is not biodiesel. In the majority of cases, biodiesel is not a 100-per-cent renewable fuel, as the manufacturing process often uses fossil fuel-derived components.

“There are other pure plant oils that are imported into the UK – such as palm oil – but these type of oils have, in many cases, been linked many social and environmental problems – including deforestation.

“That’s of course not forgetting the carbon emissions from shipping fuels many thousands of miles across the globe.”

LowC Communities is working with East Midlands Airport to build a CHP system using rapeseed oil to provide energy for a new Radisson Blu Hotel on its Leicestershire site. The hotel will use a range of energy-efficient technologies and plans to have 90% of its consumed energy use coming from renewable energy.

LowC Communities, founder and managing director, Richard Griffin said: “Pure Plant Oil, which in this case is rapeseed oil, makes the perfect alternative to fossil fuels.

“It is sustainable – as there is a steady supply from farms all over the United Kingdom; it’s absorbed carbon dioxide whilst growing – so it’s inherently ‘green’ and, perhaps most importantly, it’s economically viable – for both ends of the supply chain.”

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie