Biofuels 101 – Understanding Biodiesel and HVO

Business Insights

As fleet operators seek to decarbonise and transition away from fossil fuel diesel, biofuels often enter the conversation. Among the popular biofuel options are Biodiesel and HVO. While both are biofuels, they differ significantly in characteristics, purposes, and the objectives they meet for potential customers.

What is biofuel?

Biofuels serve as alternatives to fossil fuels. What distinguishes biofuels is the raw materials used in their production. HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) is produced through the hydroprocessing of renewable feedstocks like vegetable oils or animal fats. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is derived from raw materials such as used cooking oil, food waste and animal fats. Biofuels like these utilise existing resources on the planet without tapping into new fossil reserves, making them sustainable alternatives.

How can fleet operators utilise biofuels?

Many fleet operators have successfully adopted biofuels for their operations. Some have transitioned to HVO, while others have integrated biodiesel into their fuel mixes. For those seeking immediate implementation without modifying existing engines, choices often include HVO or High Blend Biodiesel.

‘High Blend Biodiesel' refers to blends containing over 10% biodiesel. The standard diesel available on the road, known as B7 blend, contains up to 7% biodiesel, with the remainder being fossil fuel diesel. The higher the blend of biodiesel, the smaller the carbon footprint. Blends up to B30, containing 30% biodiesel, are compatible with existing infrastructure and typically carry warranties from most manufacturers.

Environmental impact

The environmental impact of biofuels depend on the raw materials and manufacturing processes involved. HVO typically offers an 81%-91% reduction in Well-to-Wheel (WTW) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Savings, while biodiesel offers approximately 83% reduction. High Blend Biodiesel delivers carbon savings, with a B30 blend reducing emissions by around 26%.

Cost considerations

Price is a significant factor in sustainability choices. HVO tends to come at a premium, with prices ranging between 15% and 30% higher than traditional diesel, according to Zemo's Renewable Fuel Guide. In comparison, High Blend Fuel often costs similar to current diesel prices.

Making the choice

For businesses seeking sustainable fuel solutions and aiming to transition from fossil fuel diesel, the decision between HVO and biodiesel hinges on various factors. These include environmental benefits, practical considerations and cost implications aligned with business goals and logistics

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