A plumber and heating engineer from Yorkshire has become one of the first business owners in the UK to turn his work vehicle into a vegetarian van using a new type of fuel.
It’s said to be much better than previous vegetable oil-based fuel substitutes too.
Alan Marcon, 39, of Green and Reliable Heating in York, has switched from diesel to sustainable recycled vegetable oil – cutting his carbon footprint as he clocks up the miles working across North Yorkshire.
The oil heating specialist admits he took a big gamble in his bid to go green and risked seriously damaging the VW transporter’s engine.
“I knew that hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) was used successfully to heat homes but putting it in my van was a bit of an unknown, to be honest.
“The first time I turned the engine on I had everything crossed hoping the hours I’d spent researching would pay off. Luckily, it did and now I get 50 miles to the gallon and my van has never run better,” says Alan.
HVO, which is made from recycled vegetable and rapeseed oil, works the same as diesel but is a clean fuel. It doesn’t require any tank conversion and the long-term gains are a more reliable vehicle with less repairs and minimal carbon emissions.
“If businessmen like me, who have to use commercial vehicles for work, can make fuel from waste that is cleaner and better for our environment, then surely that is the way forward.
“In the past vegetable oils weren’t successful because the water content meant they waxed up engines. But that problem has been removed.
“I’d like to see an HVO pump at every fuel station in the country, it would be cheaper and greener for everyone that currently runs a diesel-powered engine,” adds Alan.
For now, he has his own filling pump with a hose attachment that he fits into the 200-litre tank he stores at his home.
“It costs me £358 plus VAT every month which works out at about £1.88 a litre. It’s a little bit more expensive but with a cleaner engine and less repairs, it really is worth it.”
Initially, Alan hoped to turn his VW electric, but current technology would mean his vehicle had to be charged every 80 miles – an impossibility when working in remote rural areas.
“With a van full of heavy tools and the heating on in winter, I’d have been lucky to travel 35 miles before I’d have to re-charge, I would have lost so much time and money it unfortunately wasn’t an option.
“But I wanted to be a good example to others of what can be done easily and with minimal cost as we look to the future.”
Alan is so confident of the benefits of HVO, which already meets carbon zero 2050 standards, that he is part of a government trial using the fuel to provide heat in his own home.
“For people like me living in rural areas, with no mains supply, we rely on oil central heating. The good news for my customers is that their oil tanks, like my van, can be easily converted to HVO.”