Following a recent HMRC review it has been formally announced that users of less than 2500 litres a year of Pure Plant Oil (PPO) fuel will now no longer need to register with Customs and Excise and pay road fuel duty as of the 30th of June.
PPO is a diesel fuel alternative and using it requires that a professional engine modification is fitted to the engine. Once modified, PPO users report similar mileage and power outputs to fossil diesel. Thanks to the new tax advantage, the cost of the conversion can be quickly recovered from the savings in fuel.
Previously, users of PPO were required to declare their fuel use to Customs and Excise, and pay duty accordingly. The decision from HMRC is based on the cost effectiveness of evaluating every small user and means it is now financially much more viable for domestic vehicle users to convert vehicles to use the lowest impact liquid biofuel.
PPO is essentially pure rapeseed oil, carefully pressed and filtered to meet fuel standards (the DIN 51605 standard). Unlike other biofuels PPO production does not require any heavy chemical processing and is made in a very low energy fashion, which means that PPO has a far smaller energy and carbon footprint compared to other biofuels. PPO is the most environmentally sound road fuel available today.
PPO use is widespread across Europe. In Germany the PPO infrastructure is well developed and many of the environmental criticisms of biofuels do not apply to the localised PPO model. The most common criticisms of conventional biofuels are:
• Use of palm oil as a feedstock can promote deforestation.
• Biodiesel and especially Bioethanol are highly energy intensive.
• Foreign feedstocks mean that ‘air-miles’ between plantations, processing factories and end use can negate any carbon savings from exhaust emissions.
In contrast, PPO is simply grown and pressed by local farming groups, then used in local vehicles. All that is needed is the correct professional engine modification. Users should be wary of cheap miracle technology solutions as a full and technical modification needs to be carried out in order to burn PPO in a safe and environmentally friendly way.
In Germany there are now over 45,000 converted vehicles running on PPO. In part due to the recent announcement by HMRC, Elsbett Technologies – who command 45% of the German market – are set to establish Elsbett UK. This will bring the most developed, trialled and tested PPO technology in the world to the UK.
Elsbett will establish a series of conversion dealerships, offering engine conversions, advice, warranties and consultancy advice to enable all users of diesel fuel in the UK to both save money and help protect the environment.
This is also good news for British farmers, as the establishment of a UK PPO model will enable farmers to establish profitable on-farm rapeseed presses, thus cutting out the middlemen associated with larger scale biofuel production.
In April next year the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) certificate scheme will mean a price reduction for heavier users of fuel. The certificate scheme will be in addition to the 20 pence per litre tax break that PPO already gets and should equate to an additional 15 pence per litre saving, or a total 35p per litre tax break for PPO from April 2008 for heavy fuel users.
With the price of PPO traditionally close to Derv, this tax advantage will ensure that PPO will be considerably cheaper than Derv diesel for the foreseeable future. This is strengthened by a rolling three year break that has been agreed, meaning the tax benefits will be in place for at least three years allowing considerable financial returns on investment for this green fuel technology.
Celebrity forerunners of the technology include Premiership goalkeeper David James, Ex-Formula 1 world champion Jody Scheckter and the green living gurus at River Cottage farm. They have all had vehicles converted by Blooming Futures – one of the UK’s leading PPO technology companies.
Stateside, even Arnold Schwarzenegger has been driving a PPO powered Hummer to showcase the technology.