The incoming Chairman of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), Tom Santa, Santa Energy, Bridgeport, CT, spoke to the Metropolitan Energy Conference about “Heating Oil-The Renewable Industry” at the group’s luncheon on November 1 in Bridgeport, CT.
Santa began by stating the oilheating industry, responsible for keeping millions of Americans warm and safe each year, is entering a renaissance with a fuel that is cleaner, less expensive and more reliable than ever.
Citing the adoption of ultra low sulfur (ULS) heating oil as a primary factor in a cleaner fuel, Santa offered documentation of the reductions in heat exchanger contamination build-up that are caused by sulfur. This build-up reduces the energy efficiency of an oilfired heating appliance as well as contributing to maintenance costs. With the reduction of sulfur, the incidents of “fouling” the heat exchanger is reduced by close to two thirds.
The reduced sulfur fuel is also better for the environment, as sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions are almost eliminated, making it on par with natural gas. Additionally, particulate emissions, a source of respiratory irritation, are also drastically reduced, again, on par with natural gas.
Santa also showed that when measuring ULS vs high-sulfur heating oil, the ULS is more stable meaning that it retains its critical properties longer while in storage.
The clean nature of the fuel has added benefits for heating equipment components outside the heat exchanger as well. Santa exhibited a study from Santa Fuel, going back to 2006, that demonstrates a significant decrease in fuel system failures. This greatly reduces service costs and improves reliability for the consumer.
Next, Santa addressed the second addition to the industry’s improved fuel-the blending of renewable biodiesel into heating oil to produce Bioheat®. When blending biodiesel into heating oil, the resulting fuel offers a clear and direct way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond what is possible with any other heating fuel today, including utility gas. Using a chart of various fuels and their relative CO2 emissions, Santa showed that relatively modest blends of heating oil can have a significant effect on those reductions.
Beyond ULS and Bioheat®, Santa enumerated additional advantages of heating oil as a liquid fuel; it is high density (high BTU output for small volume), has diverse and resilient supply sources, is easy and flexible to transport (truck, rail, barge, ship, pipeline), is easily and safely stored, and has an efficient and robust delivery infrastructure in place, requiring no multi-billion dollar investments in gas pipelines.
Lastly, Santa spoke to the low cost of heating oil. Using prices in Connecticut published by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on October 3, 2016, Santa showed heating oil selling at retail for $2.33 per gallon while the natural gas price, adjusted to be equivalent with a gallons of oil, was selling at $3.00, negating any advantage for conversion and making oilheat the economic choice.
Santa summed up with the thought, “Now the industry is poised to reinvigorate itself and the industry must convey this to its own company employees, customers, public policy makers and the general public.”
The Metropolitan Energy Conference was sponsored by the New York Oilheating Association, the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island and the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association