HVO – Is it the fuel for you?

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Nick Saunders

Operations Manager at J.W Hinchliffe Tanks

Transition to Net Zero

Increasing demand on fossil fuels, the rise of crude oil prices and the onus on companies to reduce their impact on the environment, is greater than ever. This has led to a concerted effort to develop alternative, sustainable and biodegradable fuels.

Of the many biofuels on offer, HVO is a viable and cost effective option.  Most importantly, it is significantly better for the environment than mineral diesels – HVO fuel can reduce net CO2 greenhouse emissions by up to 90% – and will help the UK government reach its 2050 ‘net zero’ carbon target.

The time to transition away from fossil fuels is fast approaching. For most companies, electrification is the ultimate goal but if you are not ready to take that leap, switching to HVO fuel could be a great interim solution.

What is HVO?

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), is a paraffinic bio-based liquid fuel derived from the hydrogenation and hydrocracking of different kinds of vegetable oils such as; rapeseed oil, palm oil and waste cooking oil as well as animal fats.  HVO is a renewable fuel with similar chemical properties to fossil diesel but with the added advantage of zero FAME content.

Why use HVO?

As the world becomes more active in its fight against climate change, companies are seeing an increased pressure to reduce their impact on the environment. Customers, shareholders, government regulators and the media expect action and a proactive approach to becoming carbon neutral. As a result, companies are expected to access the range of environmentally friendly options available to them. By switching to a renewable and sustainable biofuel, such as HVO, you would be taking a huge step in the right direction.

What are the advantages of switching to HVO?

The are several advantages to using HVO fuel;

  • Firstly, changing to a renewable fuel is a fast and effective step on the path to becoming carbon neutral. Every 1,000 litres of diesel burned produces 3.6 tonnes of CO2 apposed to just 195kg of CO2 for every 1,000 litres of HVO burned. By transitioning away from fossil fuels you are substantially reducing your company’s impact on the environment.
  • Secondly, HVO is a drop-in replacement for mineral diesel. There is no need for infrastructure modification or high initial investment. However, before you switch, we recommend having your tank cleaned and inspected to remove any sludge and ensure your tank’s viability.
  • Thirdly, as mentioned above, HVO’s zero FAME content eradicates the instability and operability issues you get with mineral diesel.

Other benefits are:

  • Sustainable and 100% biodegradable
  • Excellent cold weather performance; HVO has a low cloud point of -32 degrees Celsius, which means cleaner combustion and a reduced chance of gelling in severe cold.
  • High flashpoint; improved safety, storage and handling compared to regular diesel.
  • Reduced need for regular testing; during the production process impurities are removed. This eliminates many of the key factors for fuel degradation and increases shelf life to around 10 years.
  • Improve your brand image and reputation.
  • Your business becomes more attractive to potential customers and investors.

Are there any negatives to using HVO?

Of course, like any fuel, HVO is not perfect. There are some negatives;

  • More expensive; HVO costs more than standard diesel, but it is cheaper than changing your infrastructure
  • Limited availability; The UK’s supply of HVO is still underdeveloped compared to the rest of Europe but it is improving year on year.
  • Inconsistent; The quality can vary depending on producers. Adding certain unsustainable oils into the chemical process can reduce the positive environmental impact.

Overall, HVO can offer your company an easy and straightforward option to significantly reducing your impact on the environment however it does come with a more expensive price tag.

How can we help?

At JWH Tanks, we can help you prepare for your transition away from mineral diesel by offering a comprehensive tank inspection and cleaning service by our OFTEC registered engineers.  If you are thinking of transitioning to electric, take a look at our sister company EV Quickcharge.

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