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Biodiesel Blends Present Unexplored Prospects in Advancing Decarbonization Efforts
Biodiesel Blends Present Unexplored Prospects in Advancing Decarbonization Efforts

Biodiesel Blends Present Unexplored Prospects in Advancing Decarbonization Efforts

  • 16-Feb-2024 11:31 AM
  • Journalist: Jai Sen

Dickon Posnett, Director of Corporate Affairs at Argent Energy and President of the European Biodiesel Board, highlights an often-overlooked avenue for immediate and substantial carbon savings in truck fleets. Argent Energy, a renewable fuel producer, has been a trailblazer in implementing high biodiesel blends in truck and bus fleets, aiming to maximize greenhouse gas (GHG) savings without increasing costs for fleet operators. While the company has made significant strides in decarbonizing road transport, there remains a significant challenge in the heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) sector, where full electrification is not expected for over two decades.

Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with the HDV sector, comprising trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, posing a particular challenge for decarbonization. Argent Energy, along with the broader biodiesel industry in the UK, believes that increasing the blend level of biodiesel in HDVs presents a significant opportunity to enhance GHG savings in this sector.

The cost of high biodiesel blends, such as B20 and B30 (containing 20-30% biodiesel), to HDV operators is comparable to that of standard diesel. Despite being more expensive to produce, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) in the UK allows users to benefit from certificates (RTFCs) earned by suppliers, making the overall cost competitive. Various fuel suppliers, including Argent Energy, can provide these high blends, and many participate in the Renewable Fuel Assurance Scheme (RFAS), assuring customers of the sustainability and adherence to government criteria as a renewable fuel.

The challenge, however, lies in the reluctance of vehicle manufacturers to warranty engines for the use of high biodiesel blends. With fleets consisting of diverse vehicle models and ages, some engines may not have been tested or warrantied for high blends, leading to operational challenges. Manufacturers, focusing on future electric options, are hesitant to allocate resources to warranty testing for legacy engines. This situation impedes the adoption of high blends in significant volumes within the HDV sector.

Despite these challenges, there are encouraging signs of progress. Organizations such as the Renewable Transport Fuel Association, the Zemo Partnership, the Department of Transport, and even the Treasury are engaging in serious discussions about the potential of high blends like B20 as a viable and cost-effective alternative to fossil diesel for trucking organizations. The key lies in providing the right incentives for HDV operators, especially those refuelling at base, to encourage a widespread shift to high blends, potentially tripling GHG savings in the process. This presents a substantial and valuable opportunity for the UK to accelerate its de-fossilization efforts in the HDV sector, making it a development that should be widely welcomed.

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