An honest review of Rubis RD100, or HVO diesel, from a company that actually uses it
Six months ago, 4Hire committed to changing its ways. As part of our sustainable future project, 4theplanet, we committed to using 100% HVO diesel in our operational vehicle fleet.
Working with Rubis, we trialled Rubis RD100 before Christmas and based on the excellent results changed all our delivery trucks, service vans and company cars in the New Year.
What is Rubis RD100, or HVO diesel?
The common acronym ”HVO” comes from ”Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil” or ”Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil”. They originate from last decade when only vegetable oils were used as feedstocks. Today more and more of HVO is produced from waste and residue fat fractions coming from food, fish and slaughterhouse industries, as well as from non-food grade vegetable oil fractions.
The performance benefits
Our fleet consists of trucks with motors complying to euro 4, 5 & 6 and in operation, we have noticed only good differences in performance including;
- Cold running from start-up is better
- Exhaust particulate emissions while driving are much lower – particularly in the euro 4&5 trucks
- Fuel economy has not changed (in any way we can measure) to any significantly measurable degree
- Less soot build up in the DPF filters on small vans, such as Ford Connects
- Euro 6 Toyota Hilux and Land Rover Discovery are actually smoother in operation
In service, we have had no issues with fuel or oil filter service intervals and we are actually looking at extending periods significantly using oil sampling technology.
The environmental benefits
From an environmental perspective, we are committed to minimising our effects on the environment. We run electric vehicles where we can source them and we continue this commitment.
However, many of the vehicles we operate are not yet available in electric and when they do arrive, they will be very expensive, (and) especially after the Jersey specific modifications are made.
Rubis RD100 gives us the opportunity to pursue our sustainable future plan while we;
- Continue to utilise current vehicles to their full service life
- Invest in the latest Euro 6 vehicles now, improving efficiency sooner
- Reduce significantly the exhaust pollutants in built up areas
- Significantly reduce the effect we have on the environment without using even more resources building new (one) vehicles before time.
Our view on the palm oil issue
We are fully aware of the controversy surrounding the use of palm oil in renewable fuels and researched this heavily before committing to Rubis RD100.
We are satisfied with the fuel producer, Neste’s credentials and policies regarding the sustainable production for renewable fuel and the feed stocks they use.
Rather than just trust manufacturers or vaguely informed web trawling, we approached and discussed HVO with several trusted bodies. Our sources of information include WWF, here is a link to their views on palm oil. On this page, they advocate certification by RSPO and in response to the question,’Can I trust RSPO products?’ they say the following;
‘RSPO represents the largest, independent, third-party standard for the more sustainable production of palm oil. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities who depend on it for their livelihoods, so that palm oil can continue to play a key role in food security. Along with other organisations, we play an active role in influencing and shaping the RSPO standard to make sure it puts in place more safeguards for people and the planet. In November 2018 the RSPO standard was strengthened and it now represents an essential tool that can help companies achieve their commitments to palm oil that is free of deforestation, expansion on peat, exploitation and the use of fire.’
Neste, the producer of Rubis RD100, embraces RSPO certification in their processes. The fuel industry has to ensure the sustainability of feedstocks to produce fuel under the “biofuel” or “renewable” banner;
From the Neste website;
‘Similarly to all crops, also palm oil can be sustainably or unsustainably produced. The biofuels industry is required by law to ensure that the palm oil they use is verifiably sustainably produced. To do so, they must know the exact origin of the palm oil they use all the way to the plantation level. This is where the biofuels industry players like Neste differ from palm oil users from other industries. The palm oil that we have used has been 100% traceable to the plantation level since 2007, and 100% certified since 2013.’
European biofuels legislation prohibits the use of raw materials from estates that have been established by clearing natural forests or other land with high biodiversity value after 2008. This helps biofuels producers to ensure that their palm oil volumes have not contributed to deforestation or threatened biodiversity.’
From the discussions we have had, the consensus we find is that the inclusion of palm oil in Rubis RD100 is not a bad thing – as long as and only if it is correctly sourced, managed and certified independently. This leads to the efficient and sustainable production of the oil, preserving rainforest and other habitats, while ensuring a sustainable future for those people who live and work in these regions.
Only after satisfying ourselves on these points were we content to commit to Rubis RD100.
From a normal business point of view, the major issue with Rubis RD100 is the price. It is over 50% more expensive than regular diesel.
Changing local fuel policy
Rubis RD100 (HVO) is a premium product with a massively important environmental message behind it. The production process is more expensive, probably because it is not subject to the same political subsidisation as fossil fuels.
We can’t change global politics, but we can try to affect local policy.
The Government of Jersey has committed to pursuing a net zero carbon policy. One of the largest producers of CO2e pollution is road transport. We firmly believe that the Government must reduce the import duty on HVO to entice more people to use it.
This will have a marked effect on our pollution far faster than any other method. It is a quirk of the energy use of Jersey – we don’t have large manufacturing industries and our electricity is externally sourced by relatively clean methods.
By raising duty levels on traditional fossil diesel (and putting duty on red, tax free diesel) the change to renewable fuel can be eased financially.
Business and the public can continue to use their traditional cars, vans and trucks, with no modifications and then, when zero emission vehicles of all sizes become more available we can transition to them as part of normal vehicle life cycling.
This reduces the relentless drain on the world’s resources of a rush to replace everything with electric power
Complete satisfaction and a commitment to the future
We have committed our fleet to Rubis RD100 and in the first 6 months have been completely satisfied with performance.
We have independently researched the sustainability of the product, including the use of palm oil, and are satisfied with our findings.
We are convinced that the Government of Jersey must change taxation on renewable fuels and traditional fuels to redress the balance and encourage more use.
We will continue using Rubis RD100 fuel indefinitely. Sustainability changes such as this are vital and business should be encouraged and ultimately obliged to evolve with this ideology.