Propane certainly has a lot of things going for it, especially in remote rural and outback locations unable to be connected to the main electricity grid. It boasts strong environmental credentials. According to the BRE in the UK, LPG is the lowest carbon-intensive fuel available in gas-main-free areas. Furthermore, a recent study by energy consultant NIFES Consulting Group commissioned by Calor Gas showed that commercial buildings can reduce carbon emissions by 22 per cent by replacing an old oil boiler with one that uses LPG.
This was partly a result of a more efficient system, and partly a result of the emissions factor for fuel oil standing at 0.265 kilograms of CO2 per kWh, higher than that of LPG, which comes in at 0.214 kilograms of CO2 per kWh. In addition, a separate study published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review earlier proved that, in domestic buildings, heating oil generates about 20 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than LPG.
It is also more energy efficient. The same NIFES study also showed that an oil boiler installed 15 years ago replaced with LPG can cut energy use by 11 per cent.
Though highly flammable, it still has good safety credentials, at least from a pollution perspective. Safety LPG is non-toxic and a leak of LPG vapour is unlikely to pose any significant ground or water pollution hazard. As a liquid, it is lighter than water so has the environmental benefit of always remaining above the water level. Any LPG spillages simply vaporise and do not cause soil or water contamination. Furthermore, LPG suppliers typically own and are therefore responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the LPG tank installation. This means each time a delivery is made, the tank is checked by the driver and, periodically, the installation is checked by a qualified engineer. Essentially, this means that the tanks are one less thing for the home or business to worry about. LPG can be integrated with low-carbon and renewable technologies to provide solutions for rural commercial developments and refurbishments, which combine to create a reliable year-round heating supply with further carbon and cost savings; an increasingly attractive option, especially given the potential effects of the Carbon Tax.