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In the know about HVO

16 December 2021

In the know about HVO

I’ll bet that many hire professionals hadn’t heard of HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil) a year or so ago. But with growing interest in environmentally friendly working practices, especially after perceived improvements in air quality during the first lockdown, awareness of the fuel has risen sharply. 

During a recent webinar on Best Practice & Low Carbon Fuels hosted by the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Michael DeRome, Speedy’s head of fuel services, provided a useful insight into HVO and its qualities. 

HVO is a second generation biofuel derived from sources including used cooking oil and plant waste, as well as from vegetable oil crops grown for the purpose, although this last approach is frowned on by some conservationists as depleting natural resources. 

First generation products such as FAME (fatty acid methyl ester) are similar but absorb water and are therefore prone to contamination. HVO, however, resists this and can have a shelf life of 10 years or more. It also has a lower freezing point (typically minus 40 degrees C). 

HVO is a direct replacement for diesel and can be mixed with it. Perhaps most importantly, it reduces greenhouse emissions, NOx (nitrogen oxides) and particulate matter by up to 90%. 

Michael DeRome stressed the importance of choosing HVO that met the EN15940 standard of purification which is recognised by a growing number of manufacturers as being suitable for use in their engines. 

Globally, 3.5 million tonnes of HVO are produced annually, primarily in Europe – none is refined in the UK so it is imported. This production figure is expected to reach 10 million by 2030, which many believe will be sufficient for construction needs as the fuel can be regarded as a stop gap allowing the use of diesel machines until battery products and other alternatives offering greater power are developed.  

Michael DeRome explained that HVO is priced slightly higher than diesel but suggested that a positive is its higher quality, resistance to contamination and its longer shelf life. 

It is also regarded in the same way as diesel in terms of tax rebate, so from 1 April 2022 there will be no ‘red marked fuel’ duty reduction for construction users. 

Interest in HVO is certainly growing amongst hirers and the blog will report on its adoption moving forward. 

Picture: Machinery in Speedy’s Powered Access fleet is now fuelled with HVO as standard.

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