HVO fuel: a low-carbon alternative
September 14, 2023

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil: a reduction of nearly 98% of CO2 emissions on the HS2 project, UK 🍃

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is a bio-based liquid fuel originating from various kinds of vegetable oils such as rapeseed, sunflower, soybean and palm oil, waste oils as well as animal fats. It is seen as a greener diesel and can totally replace or be mixed with diesel. VSL used it and experienced it on the HS2 project, in the UK, and it may very well be a good and relevant option for future projects!

HVO has the same calorific value as standard diesel and is in line with the stringent requirements of the equipment manufacturers. It reduces the NOx emissions by 30% (the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2, which are significant components of harmful air pollution) as well as PPM by 86% and CO2e by more than 90%.

However, low supply makes it hardly accessible to all countries and is likely to be a higher price point than diesel – approx. 10%. Besides, it can be made from virgin oils and can be associated with deforestation.

Manuela Carreiras, VSL Environmental Engineer on the HS2 project in the UK, explained: “We consulted with our supplier before deciding to use this specific type of fuel. We checked the provenance certificate, which provided details about the origin of the vegetables used to make the fuel. This information allowed us to confirm that it was not associated with any deforestation initiatives.”

The VSL teams involved in the HS2 project constructed 16 concrete panels that were approximately 34 meters deep. In addition, they built 181 barrettes with a depth of approximately 25 meters. To power their equipment, including hydraulic grabs, cranes, generators, MEWPs, and excavators, they solely used HVO fuel. According to Manuela Carreiras, “The use of HVO fuel resulted in a remarkable 98% reduction in CO2 emissions. The company only emitted about 11 tonnes of CO2e, compared to approximately 812 tons of CO2e if they had used diesel. This highlights the effectiveness of HVO fuel and it should definitely be considered in the future, once it becomes more affordable.

Slavica Krstic