4 minutes read   05 Nov 2022

Making the switch to HVO

By Ross Hayward

As part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions and reach the Government’s net-zero targets by 2050, Chepstow Plant International (CPI) recently completed a trial of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel. Now, Ross Hayward, Head of Assets and Commercial at CPI, discusses the rationale behind the trial and explains what its results could ultimately mean for the company in the future.

This time last year, CPI took a significant step in its journey towards net-zero by embarking upon a trial of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel.

Carried out over five months and across two sites, the trial essentially provided us with an opportunity to explore the potential benefit of switching our fleet of over 400 assets from diesel to HVO fuel.

We partnered with several high-profile customers and organisations, including Sibelco, Tarmac, Watson Fuel, Green Biofuels Ltd (GBF) and World Fuel Services, in order to achieve this. The trial was enhanced further by support from SMT UK.

After deciding to use GBF’s advanced Gd+ fuel for the trial, we implemented a range of measurement methods that could ensure we produced maximum data from the trial and used apparatus that could provide us with feedback for not only emissions, but also particle concentrations and airflow too.

Over thirty Tier V assets were selected for testing across our sites at Cornwood and Tyttenhanger, with half of these operating on diesel and the other half on Gd+. This enabled us to create a test or control group for the study.

With proven impact on CO2 reduction and supply well-established within the supply chain, there were already clear advantages to using HVO when we began the trial, and knowing this allowed us to focus on four specific criteria:

  • Planning: To effectively control changes in maintenance and monitor any potential component issues
  • Productivity: To ensure the company’s operations remain unaffected in terms of production, asset availability and fuel burn
  • Pollutants: To reduce emissions in line with forecasts and expectations, with HVO providing a reliable alternative to diesel
  • Fuel management: To consider compliant storage for HVO, in addition to potential contamination, correct reporting and optimal stock control

Throughout the trial, we monitored asset performance on a weekly, and at times, daily basis - comparing both live and historical data to identify any issues in running HVO instead of diesel.Once the trial concluded we soon determined that not only had our four criteria for the trial been satisfied, in some cases – such as CO emissions and CO2 tailpipe emissions – they had been surpassed.

The key conclusions that came out of the trial include:

  • Affect on assets: Using HVO with Tier V engines has shown no long-term adverse effects on our assets
  • Air quality: With large reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particle numbers, HVO has the potential to significantly improve local air quality across our sites
  • Fuel burn: HVO has resulted in no additional fuel burnt when compared with diesel
  • Net-zero: Results have shown that HVO is a viable solution to reducing dependence on diesel and making meaningful strides towards achieving net zero

With almost-entirely positive results across the board, it became apparent that there was a case to be made in switching our fleet over to HVO fuel.

Our journey with HVO is undoubtedly still developing, and while the trial and our initial rollout to key sites is a significant step for CPI, it’s also not the only thing we’re doing to address our carbon emissions. We’re currently switching our on-the-road fleet across to electric vehicles, with plans for commercial vehicles to suit next year. We’re also looking at on-site renewable energy storage and generator options to further improve carbon footprint.

These efforts are underpinned by ongoing investment into our training department, which enables our operators to be trained and re-trained to be more environmentally conscious in their driving and help drive down idling time.

For an organisation that relies on vehicles and fuel as heavily as ours does, there is not – and will not be – any one tactic or solution that can help us to achieve net-zero. It is only through the sustained use and implementation of many methods that we can succeed, and I look forward to working with our customers over the coming months and years so we can gradually roll HVO out across our fleet and move closer to our overall goal.

By Ross Hayward

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