Whatever next for oil distribution trucks?

Road tanker operators and their suppliers are being urged to ensure that their voices are heard by meeting an 11 June deadline on a “call for evidence” from the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The government reckons there are around 1.1 million homes and 62,000 “non-domestic buildings” being heated at present in Britain by oil or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

In its “future framework for heat in buildings” consultation published two months ago (with the 11 June deadline for responses), the BEIS outlines how it intends to “phase out installation of high-carbon fossil fuel heating in buildings off the gas grid” over the next ten years.

This has huge implications for the road tanker operators whose businesses revolve around collection and delivery of fuel, oil and gas. About 80% of all oil distribution companies in the UK and the Irish Republic belong to the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), a Solihull, West Midlands-based trade association.

LAG Williams tanker at FPS Expo 2018
LAG Williams tanker at FPS Expo 2018

Vital that the industry works together with government

FPS chief executive Guy Pulham wants to ensure that the government is left in no doubt about the views of these companies, their suppliers and customers.

“The industry is on the verge of change with the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, 2050 carbon reduction targets and the introduction of clean air zones,” he says.

“It is vital that we all work together with the government, providing information and ideas on action the government can take to meet carbon reduction targets in off-gas-grid buildings, including taking a stepped-change approach to carbon reductions through a government-supported nationwide scheme to replace older oil boilers with energy efficient condensing boilers, the development of biofuels and alternative research into hybrid systems.

“It is vital that we all participate and ensure we tell the government about the crucial role our industry plays in supplying energy to off-grid homes and businesses. Everyone involved in the oil heating industry should submit their views by 11 June.”

FPS chief executive Guy Pulham
FPS chief executive Guy Pulham

Operators urged to provide detailed information

Tanker operators are being encouraged to include in their responses to the BEIS consultation such information as number of trucks and employees in their company; impact on the business of losing domestic heating oil; the role played by oil-fuelled, backup electricity generators at places including schools and hospitals; and how the fuel and oils supply chain works, from refiner/importer to end-user.

“All our members have a vital role to play in helping the government reach the right decisions on the best way forward for off-grid energy solutions,” says Pulham.

“We recognise the work of the government to meet the 2050 carbon reduction target, but oil and – more long-term – a bio product, can be part of the phased solution.

“BEIS talks about large-scale electrification but we believe they need to look at alternatives as this is not feasible due to high installation and running costs of installing heat pumps for off grid homeowners; the requirement for additional National Grid generation and infrastructure costs and, as many have already experienced in the recent bad weather, outage issues.

“We can put forward an alternative, credible solution with government support to achieve genuine energy savings in the short term and CO2 emission reduction through research into biofuels to smooth the changeover to a decarbonised heat supply.”

Tasca tankers trailer

An ambitious programme of change

Claire Perry, the BEIS minister currently responsible for “energy and clean growth”, is no stranger to road transport. She was transport minister for two years until July 2016.

In her foreword to the BEIS consultation on heating buildings, Perry says: “This is an ambitious change to the way millions of people heat their homes and businesses and presents a significant market opportunity.

However, this is also something that must be done if we are to meet our legally-binding carbon targets, improve air quality and ensure that everyone has warm, comfortable home.

“This call for evidence is the beginning of a long journey, and I am committed to bringing everyone with us.”

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Tim Blakemore
Tim Blakemore
Tim Blakemore is an award-winning automotive journalist and the former editor of our sister title, Commercial Vehicle Engineer magazine. He is also the UK representative on the panel of judges for the biennial, pan-European Trailer Innovation Award scheme.