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Saving CO2 with HVO100 is much cheaper than an electric truck

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Neste Vrachtwagen bij een tankstation

Renewable diesel

Road hauliers who want to save up to 90% of their CO2 without much effort mainly look at using renewable diesel, such as HVO100. This fuel can be used in any diesel truck and is a lot more expensive than the fossil version, but you shouldn’t think that way, says Bjorn Breckx, head of branded sales at Neste. ‘You have to compare it with the total cost of ownership of, for example, an electric truck and then HVO100 is many times cheaper.’

Neste’s current focus is on producing renewable fuels for road transport (HVO100) and aviation (SAF). ‘Chemically, HVO100 is a copy of fossil diesel’, Breckx explains. ‘The big advantage is that you can use the fuel in all existing diesel trucks. You could also mix it with regular diesel to reduce your CO2 emissions.’

In the past, biofuels were often criticised because in practice, forests were cut down to create soy fields, which were used to produce biofuel. That is why biofuel from palm oil and soy oil has been legally prohibited since 1 January 2022. Neste uses waste products, for example, used frying oil.

Residues

‘Last year, more than 90% of our raw materials consisted of waste and residues and this year, that’ll be 100%. We no longer use vegetable oils as a base’, says Breckx. ‘For example, we collect frying oil from McDonalds branches, which we take to our refinery in Rotterdam, after which it is turned into HVO100. We also use residues from the food sector.’

 ‘We expect to produce HVO from new types of raw materials in the future. For example, we are exploring the forestry and agricultural sectors and their by-products and residues, algae and new vegetable oils from regenerative agriculture concepts – a production method that enhances rather than depletes natural resources, mainly aimed at improving soil quality – as future raw material opportunities. Furthermore, we develop technologies to enable their use. Moreover, technology keeps moving. 25% of our colleagues are involved in innovation.’

Limiting factor

And although production capacity is still a limiting factor, it is increasing rapidly, Breckx explains. The demand for renewable fuels is also increasing exponentially. ‘This is mainly because electrification in road transport is still in its infancy, while HVO100 can be used by every haulier today. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the capacity to replace all oil with a renewable variant.’

That is why Neste is working hard on expanding the refinery in Rotterdam. Neste’s current production capacity for renewable products in Rotterdam of 1.4 million tons per year is the largest in Europe. The investment of approximately €1.9 billion for the expansion of the Rotterdam refinery will increase Neste’s total production capacity for renewable products by 1.3 million tons per year, bringing the total production capacity in Rotterdam to 2.7 million tons per year. This includes a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production capacity of 1.2 million tons per year. The company’s goal is to start up the new production unit in the first half of 2026.

Ocean

Yet, this is still a drop in a very large ocean. For comparison: Dutch road transport alone consumed 5.7 million tons of diesel in 2020, according to Statistics Netherlands. ‘We expect a total renewable biofuels market of 40 to 50 million tons worldwide by 2030’, Breckx explains.

It is therefore a pity that the same amount of excise duty is levied on a litre of diesel as on a litre of HVO100, he says. ‘Of course, you can’t compare the environmental impact of renewable diesel with that of fossil diesel. It would be good for market adoption if the government made a distinction in this regard.’

However, according to him, HVO100 is still the most economical option for road hauliers to make their journeys much more sustainable. ‘Our HVO100 is already available at almost 120 petrol stations in the Netherlands. Although the price per litre is 50 cents higher than regular diesel and there are still some emissions, you save up to 90% CO2 and you can continue to use your existing fleet. The costs of electric road transport are many times higher because you have to buy new expensive trucks, constantly have to charge them and install the charging network. Moreover, electric transport is not CO2-free, as producing batteries and generating electricity also produces CO2 emissions. So in our opinion, HVO100 is the most economical sustainable option that can be used today.’

Source: https://www.nt.nl/wegvervoer/2023/10/02/co2-besparen-met-hvo100-veel-goedkoper-dan-een-elektrische-truck/

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