Putting the brakes on using diesel oil

Portsmouth City Council has revealed details of a new, greener fuel initiative which puts the brakes on using diesel in a bid to reduce vehicle emissions.

The estate services team within the council has converted most of their van fleet to using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), following the same change made by two of the council’s waste collection trucks last year.

The trial, which includes numerous work and cage tippers vans, started last month is expected to be adopted permanently. To make the switch possible now, the team have opted to re-fuel at Biffa’s vehicle depot in Anchorage Park while they explore the potential to store their own HVO fuel supply. Expanding the initiative by delivering an in-house solution could have the potential to help fuel the rest of the council’s vehicles with the diesel alternative.

HVO is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by over 90% and other harmful pollutants by over 80% in the trial vehicles

Made from 100% renewable raw materials like fat, waste vegetables and other oils, HVO is a synthetic fuel with an identical chemical composition to diesel, making it readily compatible with the team’s vans.

Significantly more environmentally friendly than diesel counterpart, it also:

  • is cheaper per litre (at this time)
  • has a better year-round performance, particularly in winter in comparison to diesel
  • is considered one of the cleanest fuel alternatives with no loss of power or mileage to the vehicles currently in use
  • has a longer storage life (10 years vs 1 year for diesel)
  • doesn’t require any vehicle modifications to make the switch

Colleagues from both estate services and Biffa met at the depot with Cllr Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness, to re-fuel one of the council’s caged tipper vans with HVO for the first time.

Cllr Sanders said of the trial:

“Our initiative with Biffa is already yielding positive results and we’re proud to be showing that switching to greener fuel alternatives doesn’t need to be complicated. HVO is an excellent option for reducing our fleet’s emissions and helping clean up the city’s air while we clean the city’s streets. It’s a great way to meet our environmental goals without having to carry out an expensive conversion process and we will continue to innovate in this area.”

The council’s estate services team has been prioritising greener travel in the past few years

No strangers to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, the estate services team introduced numerous electric vans to their fleet in 2021 which has delivered great success. Since then, finding a solution to move their larger vehicles away from diesel has proven more challenging in terms of power and cost. However, being able to re-fuel at one of Biffa’s city depots has allowed the team to make the fuel switch relatively easily while they develop in-house solutions.