Rapeseed Oil Fuels Green Energy Revolution30 March 2011

Lincolnshire-based energy firm LowC Communities says it has developed a viable non-food rapeseed oil (break crop) power generation system that is providing low-carbon, green electricity, heating and hot water for buildings.

The company, which uses locally-grown rapeseed, has installed its power generation system at several schools and offices, resulting in what it describes as extraordinarily low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Pure plant oil makes the perfect alternative to fossil fuels [because] it is sustainable, it's absorbed carbon dioxide whilst growing and, perhaps most important, it's economically viable," states LowC Communities fonder and managing director Richard Griffin.

He cites Big Wood School in Nottingham, which is producing the bulk of its annual electricity, space heating and hot water requirements from local rapeseed oil.

"The key component … is a specially designed and manufactured renewable energy centre, incorporating a CHP [combined heat and power] system," says Griffin. "The heat created by the engine is recovered to provide hot water that can be used for heating and hot water."

Griffin makes the point that, because the fuel is accredited as renewable by Ofgem, its rapeseed oil-powered CHP systems qualify for double ROCs (renewables obligation certificates), providing additional revenue for the buildings' owners.

"It is also very important that energy usage within the building is kept to an absolute minimum to avoid waste, and this is done by intelligent controls and a building that is constructed using the highest levels of insulation," says Griffin.

Brian Tinham

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LowC Communities Ltd

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