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New Renewable Fuels Guide shows HGV operators how to cut carbon emissions

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A new Renewable Fuels Guide has been released by the Zemo Partnership intended to help HGV operators reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on their journey to net zero.

Fuel options covered in the guide include biodiesel, renewable diesel, biomethane and bio-propane. Each section provides an overview of the UK’s renewable fuels market, the current deployment of renewable fuels in the HGV fleet (with case studies), plus the fuels’ GHG emission performance and primary sustainable feedstocks. It also includes operational information including public and depot-based refueling infrastructure, as well as financial information.

Also listed are heavy duty manufacturers engine models that are approved to run on high blend biodiesel (e.g. B20, B30) and renewable diesel (e.g. HVO).

Currently, low carbon renewable fuels are contributing a third of all carbon savings from road transport. Over the next, critical decade using lower carbon fuels in the heavy duty vehicle fleet is the biggest opportunity to make a step change reduction in GHG emissions.

Zemo Partnership research shows that GHG emissions from the UK’s HGVs could be cut by an extra 46 million tonnes over the next seven years (2030) – equivalent to 4% of all road transport GHG emissions – if an average of 30% renewable fuel (such as high blend biodiesel, renewable diesel or biomethane) were adopted across the existing HGV fleet. Considerable emissions savings can reportedly be achieved up to – and will be needed well beyond – 2040 if the residual diesel HGV fleet were to introduce renewable fuels on a wide scale.

With disclosure of GHG emissions becoming a mandatory requirement for businesses in the UK and internationally – and many organisations incorporating sustainability performance standards into their tendering processes – adopting renewable fuels can provide a highly practical solution, particularly for operators of vehicles with long duty cycles and those with heavy payloads, which are difficult and currently very costly to electrify.

Report author and Zemo’s fuels lead and Head of Sustainability, Gloria Esposito, said:

“We’re delighted to publish this new Guide to help heavy duty vehicle operators who are facing many other challenges, find a way through the maze of guidance and regulations around cutting carbon emissions.

The Guide has been compiled with the support of Zemo members – manufacturers, fuel suppliers and fleet operators – who have shared their invaluable knowledge and experience.”

Tanya Neech, Head of Sustainability for Scania UK said:

“There’s no ‘silver bullet’ solution to reducing the GHG emissions from our sector, which is why we must explore and investigate all technologies.

Efforts will need focus on three pillars: energy efficiency, renewable fuels and electrification. All three are important, and only by combining them, can we provide sustainable solutions, and be able to reduce GHG emissions on par with the Paris Accord.

Electrification on its own won’t be enough to reach the GHG reduction targets. To keep the necessary pace of halving the real well-to-wheel carbon footprint from heavy duty transport every decade, sustainable biofuels will be vital.”

Niki Holt, Head of Commercial for Certas Energy said:

“There is no well-trodden path on the journey to net zero, nor is there a ‘silver bullet’ solution for decarbonisation.

As a member of Zemo Partnership, we’re committed to working with partners across the energy industry to support businesses in tackling the energy ‘trilemma’ with practical and effective solutions to accelerate their sustainability efforts.

Renewable fuels such as HVO have the potential to play a significant role in plugging the gap to net zero and this guide provides businesses with persuasive evidence and practical guidance to take their next step with their energy transition strategy. By switching our own fleet to HVO, we’ve successfully exceeded our own 2025 carbon reduction target three years ahead of schedule and we look forward to supporting more HGV operators in doing the same.”

The report goes on to highlight that the production of biofuels involving the cultivation of energy crops should not result in land use changes that cause deforestation, loss of biodiversity or removal of high value carbon vegetation, with renewable fuel suppliers required to demonstrate that their feedstocks originate from genuine biomass wastes and residues.

The Renewable Fuels Assurance Scheme, managed by the Zemo Partnership, independtly verifies  claims made by companies supplying renewable fuels to heavy duty vehicle and equipment operators regarding their product’s life cycle GHG emission savings and feedstock sustainability. To date twenty-one renewable fuel suppliers are approved under the scheme. 

The Renewable Fuels guide can be downloaded in full here.

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