By Mitchel Gagnon ’24 Director of Marketing
The oil and gas industry was and still is one of the main pillars of the U.S. economy. As of 2020 the United States Department of Energy stated that oil, natural gas, and coal provided 80% of American energy and the industry provided 12.3 million jobs. Furthermore, the industry provides the US economy with over $330 billion in revenue. However, given the growing environmental concerns and changes in public policy, the industry is going to have to change the source of the energy it provides consumers. That’s where Bioheat comes in, an environmentally and economically friendly alternative to traditional heating fuel.
The initial question to be asked is what is Bioheat? Bioheat is a blend of biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating fuel, which creates a more eco-friendly alternative for both traditional heating fuel and natural gas. There are different types of Bioheat blends as well, with the difference being in the percentage of the fuel that contains the blend. The ranges are defined in tiers of the following: Bioheat (up to 5% blend), Bioheat Plus (6–20% blend), and Bioheat Super Plus (blends 21–100%). The value that these blends provide can be measured with their impact on the environment as well as their impact for consumers and the economy. The biodiesel that is used in the blend is made from a wide range of feedstocks, these feedstocks are made up of waste products or by-products of existing food supply lines. By doing this, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly in not just the creation of the fuel, but when it is used in a consumer’s home as well. This results in a 50% emission reduction compared to petroleum diesel. From a consumer lens, Bioheat is able to be used with existing heating systems, meaning there is no additional cost for the consumer to transition from their old heating oil to Bioheat. Additionally, Bioheat is priced at similar rates to heating oil, with the variation in price being driven by the current market. For consumers there is no drastic change in cost to make the switch from regular home heating oil to Bioheat.
With all of these benefits, what’s stopping the immediate switch to Bioheat? Shaking up a dominant and old industry takes time as well as money. Varying by state, many heating and oil associations have agreed to an incremental plan of transitioning the oil supply to include higher percentages of the Bioheat blend until achieving carbon neutrality in 2050. The change will take time, but the movement towards moving domestic heating oil to a more environmentally friendly solution is gaining more and more traction. Back in June Tom Vilsack, the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, announced that up to $500 million of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by President Biden will be allocated to increasing the availability of domestic biofuels for American consumers. For consumers and investors alike, cleaner energy is sure to shake up the dormant energy industries that are now making the transition into a more environmentally sustainable world.
Mitchel is a senior from Manchester, New Hampshire studying a degree in Finance and Marketing. This is his second year in the fund and he is excited to build upon the skills he learned in his first year. Furthermore, he is grateful to be in the Director of Marketing position this year, and is looking forward to working alongside his fellow EC. This past summer he worked as an intern for Boston Environmental in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he learned valuable knowledge about the Oil and Gas industry. On campus, he is also actively involved in UNH’s professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi.