EnergyEnergy report

Calor’s renewable energy journey

Calor is pioneering sustainable solutions for Northern Ireland’s rural communities, writes Mary Coughlin, Calor’s Regional Sales Manager.

Calor has been a reliable supplier of energy solutions for over eight decades, particularly catering to rural consumers off the natural gas grid here in Northern Ireland.

Our product range caters to a wide array of sectors, spanning agriculture, hospitality, industrial settings needing high-temperature heat, and residential properties. Deeply attuned to consumers’ and businesses’ unique needs, our journey to net zero is well underway and is committed to offering a variety of options to fulfil current and future energy requirements.

This commitment extends to our role in guiding them through the transition to more sustainable energy solutions. Still, with this move, there is a necessity for robust governmental support and a collaborative approach to marketing efforts to ensure that customers are adequately informed about the available options, empowering them to make well-informed decisions regarding their energy choices.

For the past 80 years, Calor has been synonymous with LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) supply, and in 2018, we introduced our first renewable fuel, BioLPG. This marked a significant milestone in achieving our aspiration of offering 100 per cent renewable and sustainably sourced energy, in line with our ethos of caring for future generations.

Our BioLPG is a significant part of this journey and delivers up to 80 per cent certified carbon savings compared to fossil fuels*, offering an environmentally conscious choice as a drop-in fuel compatible with existing infrastructure, simplifying the transition for users.

BioLPG can also blend seamlessly with LPG. This flexibility empowers users to dictate their own green trajectory while balancing the associated financial costs because they can blend from 10 per cent to 100 per cent BioLPG — the option is theirs.

BioLPG, while a massive part of our net zero efforts, will be one of many innovative products. As part of SHV Energy, a global leader in LPG, Calor draws on vast insight and experience, and we are proud that Northern Ireland is leading the way in our parent company’s broader adoption of BioLPG.

Since we introduced BioLPG in 2018, Northern Ireland has been among the earliest global adopters, driven by local businesses embracing our products.

Additionally, with our parent company, we are actively pioneering alternative fuels like renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) — a clean-burning fuel produced from renewable sources such as organic waste or biomass. Through the joint venture Dimeta, SHV aims to expedite rDME production, offering another clean fuel option while supporting local waste management.

At Calor, we believe partnerships play a crucial role in achieving our and society’s net zero goals. Our partnerships with leading universities, including Queen’s University Belfast, enable us to undertake groundbreaking research and development projects to meet the evolving needs of our customers and the environment.

Calor also adopts a mixed technology approach, which we know will be a valuable asset in the transition to more sustainable energy solutions. This combines traditional LPG and BioLPG with renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and heat pumps.

It enables us to offer a range of economically viable solutions for off-grid homes and businesses, ensuring reliable warmth while cutting carbon emissions. Our ongoing exploration of hybrid solutions is another part of our commitment to meeting evolving customer needs and advancing towards a more sustainable energy future.

However, this energy transition comes with challenges, particularly in rural areas. Limited public knowledge and the upfront costs of transitioning remain significant barriers. Research carried out by Calor in March 2024 cited cost as the primary barrier in the shift towards lower carbon or renewable energy, followed by 38 per cent indicating a lack of access to infrastructure.

Educating consumers and providing financial support for equipment upgrades are essential steps in overcoming these challenges. Government policies that promote mixed technology solutions and support energy efficiency improvements can further facilitate this transition.

The survey showed that more than half (54 per cent) of respondents said the Government is not giving enough support in facilitating the transition to lower carbon or renewable energy sources. This highlights the need for government leadership through policy to address this gap.

Four key challenges for the adoption of renewable liquid gases require collective action; firstly, the need for clear policy direction is crucial. The Northern Ireland energy strategy and subsequent yearly action plans by the Department for the Economy (DfE) is a promising step.

Secondly, as part of the broader LPG sector, collaboration with Liquid Gas UK is vital to address these challenges.

Decarbonising heat is another pressing issue to achieve net zero by 2050. It is essential to offer consumers a mixed offering rather than relying solely on one solution such as electricity. We can learn from neighbouring countries, where policies favouring one solution over others have proven ineffective, emphasising the importance of providing choice.

Lastly, time is of the essence, and adopting a multi-technology approach is paramount. We view LPG as the initial step, followed by renewable gases, to tackle these challenges effectively.

As a business, Calor is committed to leading the transition to greener energy in Northern Ireland – particularly in rural areas. Through innovative products like BioLPG, ongoing research into renewable fuels like rDME and eventually Hydrogen, alongside our strategic partnerships we are helping shape a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Right now, Calor will continue to communicate and support people to join in using lower carbon LPG and BioLPG. We are aiming to invest, and we’ve taken this step and journey before there was a policy there and we will continue to work towards that to enable our customers to make lower carbon choices.

Mary Coughlin

Show More
Back to top button