In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Heating homes with hydrotreated vegetable oil is now under way in pilots in the UK.
  • New software from the DOE and NREL will greatly speed up residential solar permitting across the US.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Hydrotreated vegetable oil

There are over 1.5 million oil-heated homes in the UK, which make up around 5% of total occupied homes. As of June 23, 19 properties across the country had successfully adopted hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which is made from fossil-free, certified sustainable waste materials sourced without harming the environment and reduces emissions by almost 90%.

Jodie Allan, a former president of the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA), converted her home in Drymen, Scotland, to HVO in March, and said to Scottish Housing News that everything has gone smoothly. She’s piloting HVO in a yearlong trial. Of the 129,000 oil heated homes in Scotland, Allen is the first to adopt HVO. She said:

Depending on the particular system being converted the cost will come in at somewhere between £500 [$690) and £1,000 [$1,381]. The HVO is stored in our existing 1,200-liter tank and it is estimated we will use 20 liters a day in the colder months.

Ken Cronin CEO, UKIFDA, Jodie Allan & family, and delivery driver Sean Smith at the vegetable oil storage tank. Photo: Scottish Housing News

However, the current cost of renewable liquid fuels is approximately three times traditional heating oil. As the supply and demand increases, the cost is expected to drop. 

Ken Cronin, CEO of UKIFDA, said:

The early trial results indicate that HVO can offer the all-important choice that has been lacking when it comes to low carbon heating solutions for our customers.

We are confident oil heated households will be keen to accept an HVO solution as it overcomes the major cost of change and disruption barriers to decarbonization that exist for so many people living in older, hard-to-treat homes.

Oil-heated households in the UK can learn more about using HVO here.

New US residential solar permitting software

The US Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) yesterday launched Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus – SolarAPP+ – which is a free web-based platform designed to help governments and installers by standardizing and automating residential solar permitting and installation.

The software was developed by NREL, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), leading rooftop solar companies, building officials, and other clean energy leaders to help more than 2.4 million homes go solar while creating 30,000 new American jobs over the next few years. It was piloted in Tucson; Pima County, Arizona; Menifee, California; and Pleasant Hill, California. In Tucson, for example, SolarAPP+ reduced permitting reviews from approximately 20 business days to zero. 

The short video below explains how SolarAPP+ works:

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said:

SolarAPP+ will bust through bureaucracy to speed up permitting, helping homeowners more quickly add solar panels on their roofs, adding gigawatts of clean electricity to the nation’s grid, while creating good paying jobs… I’m challenging localities across the country to bring the SolarAPP+ right to their hometowns.

The US reached 1 million solar installations in 2016, 2 million in 2019, and 3 million in 2021. SolarAPP+ will help the US double its solar installations to 6 million by 2026.

Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO, also said:

We can’t stop here, though, which is why SEIA is urging Congress to act on a bold infrastructure package that prioritizes long-term policy drivers for solar and storage deployment. That package should also include continued funding for programs like SolarAPP+ that will be instrumental in tackling the biggest climate and energy challenges yet to come.

Read more: Florida utilities want to gut solar. Here’s why

Photo: NextChem

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