With the UK government setting the net zero target of decarbonisation by 2050 for all sectors, many industries are seeking a replacement for traditional fossil fuels to help meet these requirements. One such option is renewable diesel and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO fuel) as alternatives, which seem to be gathering speed in popularity, with Zemo estimating that as many as 4000 HGVs are now running on renewable diesel.

Despite this growing use, many myths circulate about the fuel and how well it can perform compared to other alternative fuels and traditional fossil fuels. Niki Holt, Head of Commercial at Certas Energy, a leading provider of HVO fuel, has offered expert insight into renewable diesel options like HVO and debunks several of the most common myths surrounding it as a fuel.

Myth #1 – Electricity is the only choice for net zero

Integrating more electrification into vehicles and machinery will be vital to meeting net zero targets, but concerns are holding it back in the commercial space. These key concerns tend to focus on insufficient battery range and a lack of robust and accessible charging infrastructure. Plus, while the vehicles and equipment don’t directly produce emissions while running, there will always be byproducts when generating the power, and establishing charging networks can still rely on fossil fuels.

This is where alternatives can provide a solution, as HVO offers significantly lower emissions than traditional fossil fuels and can act as an intermediary between traditional fossil fuels and emission-free electric. While it isn’t completely net zero, it’s an important step for businesses to reevaluate their carbon footprint.


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Myth #2 – HVO and renewable diesel isn’t cost-effective

As a premium fuel with benefits over and above standard fossil products, the cost per litre of HVO fuel is currently not the same as standard diesel, although the price gap is expected to reduce as momentum accelerates to achieve GHG emissions reductions and governments consider additional incentives for renewable fuels. It’s also worth noting that there are zero ‘switch’ costs for changing to HVO from standard diesel. Unlike the often-considerable upfront cost of switching to some other alternative energy options, HVO is a straight ‘drop-in’ fuel.

Myth #3 – There’s no value in making the transition yet, as it will disrupt my business

Despite the government’s plan for a carbon-neutral future, many businesses may not see any reasonable benefit in making the switch before it’s a necessity. But we’ve already seen legislative changes being passed, such as Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) and clean air zones (CAZ) around the country to encourage the incorporation of alternative fuels and help push towards better air quality.

This represents only the beginning, and it’s likely we’ll see more changes and restrictions being introduced that will force a much faster adoption of alternative fuels like HVO. Niki Holt, Head of Commercial at Certas Energy, has expressed the importance of proactive integration of alternative fuels: “HVO is an attractive alternative to standard diesel, and it’s expected that as more restrictions come into play to support plugging the gap to net zero, getting ahead of the curve and building relationships with supply partners, will help businesses to mitigate risks.

“This is made easier by the fact that modifications to machinery, vehicles, equipment or engines are not required – meaning less disruption or downtime in operations, as well as zero or minimal cost to switch, giving businesses a smooth transition between fuels and enabling productivity.”

Myth #4 – It’s not reliable enough

Reliability is a factor that many businesses deem crucial to making commitments to a newer technology. This is why many may see fit to stick with traditional fuels like diesel, due to the stability of the offers despite its emissions. However, positive adoption of renewable diesel alternatives is beginning to be seen by an increasing number of businesses across wide range of industries, including haulage and logistics, construction, public sector, utilities and marine to name just a few.

This shows that investing in alternatives like HVO can help fuel innovation and push forward as a true renewable option in the future. Plus, Niki Holt has also outlined the reliability of HVO deliverability within the UK: “At Certas Energy alone, there’s an extensive national network of ~900 tankers, 130 local depots, and a growing network of HVO-stocked high-speed HGV refuelling sites, all supporting a reliable, assured, convenient and competitive supply of HVO to UK businesses.

Myth #5 – It’s not suitable for my business due to warranties and OEM approvals

While HVO is a suitable fuelling solution for vehicles capable of all terrains, as well as plant and machinery, a common myth is that it’s not compatible with popular original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This is far from the truth, as most OEMs already have confirmed their approvals of HVO fuel.