Sustainable fuel is here...let’s use it.

While there are many advocates for electric vehicles, and I am one, what is clear is that they are both pretty expensive to buy and are restricted to cars and small vans at the moment.

Larger vans, trucks and buses are coming, but they are a while away yet. This is not only because of technology, but also availability. We have specific requirements on large vehicles and manufacturers are building for a global market, not a small island which is understandable.

So, we have a lot of perfectly usable vehicles running around, burning fossil fuels - particularly diesel, that have many years of life in them, but also have to last until we can actually replace them with those powered by new energy systems.

If a vehicle has a useful life of, say, 15 years and new diesel motors are banned from 2025 then we will still have diesel powered vehicles in use in 2040 or even longer.  
 

locally, we have a sustainable diesel fuel, produced by one of the worlds top 5 sustainable companies from waste vegetable oils and other food products that is a higher quality fuel than normal diesel. It can be dropped into any diesel engine with no modifications and complies with manufacturers warranty terms.

it is called HVO and it produces 90% less CO2e pollution than fossil diesel. It also produces much less particulate pollution, NOx and other contributors to local air pollution. 

The manufacturer is completely fastidious about maintaining the sustainability of their supply chain and has WWF backed accreditation for it's raw material supply.  
 

why is it not taking over then?
Cost.

HVO is an expensive fuel. It does not benefit from governments across the world subsidising it as they do fossil fuel producers.

At the pumps, it is about 40 p per litre more expensive. To bulk users such as transport and farming users, much more so. 
 

The fuel attracts the same level of duty that fossil fuels do. A small portion of this 57p per litre duty goes to the Climate Emergency Fund, but the government still makes 50 p per litre from polluting the environment.

Why not remove duty on sustainable fuel, now, and add more to polluting fuels  - promote the change to sustainable fuels now and ensure that we have a plan to run out the existing "fleet" of vehicles in the island.

 

Why the contribution is important

We have to accept that there are over 100,000 vehicles in the island and at a replacement rate of , say, 1000 a year it will be a long time to get rid of combustion engined vehicles.

We have to accept that there are serious costs to all of us for this change. It is though, more palatable to change our fuel use in the short term than pay to just replace everything over 7 years.

We have to have accept that sustainability is not just about ditching everything we know and replacing it - that is not sustainable. We have to provide routes out of this mess that make an impact now, but also ensure a stable transition to the future.

The government has to promote the use of sustainable fuels now - not talk about it - we have been talking about it for years. Not do some trials - they have all been done; stop trying to re-invent the wheel.

The current conversation is vital, but action must also be taken now using the tools we already have available to us. The cost, both financial and social will only become greater the longer we take.

by Nigelblandin on February 17, 2021 at 07:03AM

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Comments

  • Posted by NickyW February 17, 2021 at 09:27

    Yes, I can see this argument. There's no reason not to use any fuel alternative. If it costs more, we walk more! Much better for us!
  • Posted by Christian February 17, 2021 at 13:35

    Using this Diesel alternative is a positive way forward, especially given the life expectancy of the present vehicle population. Electric car technology is coming on in leaps and bounds but is a few years away from being a realistic option for many. Battery production has its own carbon footprint cost, and non recyclable lifespan, these of course will improve in time. If Government wants to improve matters and achieve better climate targets then it needs to take the matter seriously. How:

    Sustainable transport policy

    Remove all biofuel taxes, HVO/RD100 should be more economical than standard Diesel/Petrol, it feels like we are being fined for doing the right thing, bit of a contradiction that one.

    Improve safe and island wide alternatives, not have Evio bikes that don't cover the whole island or buses that stop running to the far corners at 6:00pm.

    More incentives to cycle, walk. Proper cycle lanes, junctions, not a work round cars but where cars take a lower priority over cycles that have a lower priority over pedestrians.

    Legislation to protect and make alternatives (cycling, walking) safer. (Freddies law)

    Its a mind set change that is required
  • Posted by Dp20 February 18, 2021 at 08:17

    But if we remove tax from biofuels, won't this just incentivise more vehicle use? And leave a gap in the funding of the climate emergency measures? This does nothing for congestion and other social issues associated with motor traffic and may slow the take up of active travel, electric vehicles etc.

    And, I'm not convinced everyone will understand that when you talk about "a 90% reduction in C02e" - you don't mean at the tailpipe. Burning fuel still produces CO2. You are talking about a lifecycle assessment, which takes account of the ability of the crops that produce the biofuel to absorb CO2. Which is hugely dependant on other factors such as where and how they are grown, what crops they displace etc.
  • Posted by Vraic February 18, 2021 at 22:46

    Is it sustainable? How much land is needed to produce enough for all of Jersey?

    Or all of the USA? I imagine to provide enough for the world it would need a few worlds worth of land.

  • Posted by Nigelblandin February 19, 2021 at 08:01

    So, in response to the last 2 posts, the HVO fuel uses waste products from food industries for over 80% of its content.
    Last year 12% was from material specifically grown for the fuel. That was palm oil and, as explained at the start is specifically chosen by the producer after a very rigorous process of investigation and accreditation.
    They know how contentious palm oil is and for good reason.
    Their accreditation is supported by the WWF who understand that the sustainable production of palm oil is an acceptable situation - compared to the alternatives; unregulated production, or fossil fuel use...
    Yes, the 90% reduction is not at the tailpipe, it is a net reduction compared to the use of fossil fuels - ie you only make 10% of the pollution of normal vehicles.
    In the absence of enough zero emission vehicle and plant stock, surely that is a win?
    The tailpipe benefits of HVO are the large reduction in particulates and other local polluters. HVO burns hotter and faster than normal diesel so does not produce the same amount of soot as the normal stuff. If you drive a diesel car, it virtually eliminates DPF problems with our slow driving.

    On the other note, the reduction of actual vehicle use is down to the Sustainable Transport Policy , if that ever appears.
    That should make those changes. Again, the use of HVO helps us arrest the creation of more pollution NOW.

    Remember, as our electricity is generated off-island and is classed as category 2 emissions for reporting, the use of fossil fuels for transport is our largest local emitter, over 40%.
    The stuff is here , now.
  • Posted by greybeard February 19, 2021 at 14:19

    I've been using RD100 renewable diesel in our 2002 diesel hatchback for months now: there seems to be a reduction is smoke emitted (reduced particulates) and there is no difference in performance.

    I agree that the cost of RD100 (and equivalents) should be reduced to encourage diesel users to switch from traditional diesel as soon as possible.

    Although we would like to get an electric car in the future, our existing car runs well and we are aware of the energy that was used in its making - surely the longer we can use the vehicle without replacing it the better, assuming its life can be extended in an environmentally safe way. [We also cycle, walk and use the bus!]
  • Posted by Nigelblandin February 19, 2021 at 17:35

    Well said.
  • Posted by johnpinel February 23, 2021 at 21:00

     I fear that a mass migration from fossil fuel to bio-fuels will simply hasten the demise of forests world-wide. Our consumption of oil based crops has already caused vast swathes of deforestation, and if we aim to replace all petrol and diesel cars with plant oils, the demand for agricultural land will increase substantially, when we need that land to feed a growing world population.

    Most of the people in the world need their farmland to grow subsistence crops, it is only we, relatively affluent, people in high income countries who can afford to have these conversations.

    We need to move towards shared car use and buses, as well as self powered and electric vehicles, but if we simply exchange all of our fossil fuel vehicles for plant oil and electric vehicles we do nothing to resolve the problems of congestion, air pollution and the demand for resources to build all of these things.

    This article from the rain forst alliance describes some of the problems;
    https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/[…]/biofuels_policy.pdf

    and like the WWF, they are broadly supportive of bio-fuels if managed well.
    I think that they will be a disaster!

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