Go Green with Your Fleet Overnight
How Sustainable Diesel Alternatives are
Impacting The Way Fleets Operate
Climate change is an ongoing topic that attracts heated discussions, headlines news stories and challenges government policies. The public’s growing understanding and demands for more efficient solutions are fueling a shift in corporate attitudes, especially about ways to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG)—a major source of our planet’s increasing warmth.1
In response, nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have at least one climate- or clean- energy-related target.2 Some of these companies, with Google, Wal-Mart and Bank of America leading the way, intend to operate with 100 percent renewable energy.3
In the United States, transportation is the primary source of GHG emissions from burning fuel for cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes.4 More than 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, including conventional diesel.5
Battery-powered electric vehicles grab much of the media’s attention, but heavy-trucks are much more expensive than those with conventional internal combustion powertrains, and a network of recharging stations along highways remains to be built. Cleaner-burning compressed fuel, like natural gas and propane, require modifications to trucks and investment in specialized storage and refueling equipment. And though cleaner burning, they are still fossil fuels and contribute to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Alternative fuels are becoming easier to adopt and more affordable. To make their trucks greener, fleet operators will need to embrace these new technologies while increasing the efficiency of their current resources.
Calculating the Full Cost of Fuel
The most accurate way to evaluate the cost and environmental impact of a fuel is to calculate its carbon intensity (CI). This is a measure of the amount of GHG (CO2e) generated for every unit of energy produced. Measuring every fuel in the same units provides a consistent baseline for comparison.
Electricity generation sources are region-dependent. Some areas with a high concentration of renewable sources can have an energy production CI that is lower than diesel, but producing equivalent power in other areas can be more than twice as polluting.
Other alternatives, like compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), can have a lower CI value, which means less pollution is made while producing these options. However, for a fleet owner, there are other considerations.
Each of these non-diesel alternatives has a price tag for which fleet operators must budget. These costs can include purchasing new vehicles, installing charging stations, building CNG/LNG fueling stations, converting existing vehicles, or retraining and certifying maintenance personnel.
At the Pump: Expect Higher Prices
Diesel prices hover close to $3.35 a gallon—nearly 54 cents a gallon higher than this time last year.7 These rising prices, combined with the growing pressure to invest in environmentally friendly alternative fuels and technologies, mean that fleet managers will need to find new ways to better manage, if not reduce, fuel spend while still operating efficiently.
Fleets in Service Today— and for Years to Come
Trucks have a long life cycle, so diesel-powered vehicles in current fleets should still be on the road in 2030 and beyond.8 These trucks can be converted to run on alternative fuels. Making the switch, however, means fleet owners will need to invest millions of dollars to modify or replace trucks that have internal combustion engines.
Even if fleets make that commitment, billions more dollars are needed to build the infrastructure to recharge or refuel vehicles running on batteries or alternatives fuels—which could take decades.
Handling the Truth About Fuel Cost
In California, the primary U.S. market for alternative fuels for Class 8 trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles, fuel prices are already higher than that of other states due to taxes and regulations.9 And prices are predicted to reach or exceed $4 per gallon in 2019.10 What’s more, diesel prices in California could reach between $6 and $7 per gallon during the next decade.11
In addition, the state committed to “remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits” by 2045.12 How fleets respond is critical to California achieving its carbon neutrality goal, because the transportation sector is the single biggest contributor of GHG, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions into the atmosphere.
All of these environmental and monetary concerns are what’s driving fleet operators in their search for fuel options, especially choices that can green up a fleet immediately. The most popular are noted below:
Invest in Renewable Diesel for the Long Hau
Most Class 8 and heavy-duty trucks burn conventional CARB (ULSD) petroleum diesel. While it’s a hydrocarbon fuel that meets the ASTM-D975 standard, petroleum diesel contains aromatics that do not combust easily. In turn, engine oil is contaminated, injectors become fouled and DPM filters clog.
One alternative fuel available right now is renewable diesel, which is proven to burn cleanly and to reduce maintenance costs and requires no change to a fleet’s existing vehicles or infrastructure.
Renewable diesel is a non-petroleum hydrocarbon fuel made from 100 percent renewable raw materials, including animal and plant waste. Unlike conventional refining of petroleum diesel, the bio-based feedstocks and a specialized refining process ensure that renewable diesel has none of the aromatics and impurities that can damage engine parts.
For fleets seeking a fast route to clean and efficient operations, renewable diesel can provide a carbon intensity up to 80 percent lower than fossil diesel usage. The impact on emissions is immediate.
CARB Diesel and Renewable Diesel: What’s the Difference?
When it comes to choosing a fuel to power their vehicles, fleet managers have plenty of options; however, not all fuels are created equal. See how the two fuel types stack up:
CARB Diesel and Renewable Diesel: Renewable Diesel Adds Up to Reduced Costs
There are many choices when it comes to going green with a fleet, but in terms of simplicity, operational impact, and cost to switch, there is only one that wins hands down.
Renewable diesel is the proven alternative to fossil diesel. For example, Neste sold its one billionth gallon of Neste MY Renewable DieselTM in California in 2018. Increasingly, fleets rely on the performance of cleaner renewable diesel to power Class 8 trucks on day trips and on longer runs across the state with the largest population in the nation. Throughout California, fleets also deliver critical municipal services with renewable diesel in fire trucks, garbage trucks, buses and other locally driven vehicles.
Neste creates sustainable solutions for transport, business and consumer needs. Our wide range of renewable products enable our customers to reduce climate emissions. We are the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues, introducing renewable solutions also to the aviation and plastics industries. We are also a technologically advanced refiner of high-quality oil products. We want to be a reliable partner with widely valued expertise, research and sustainable operations.
1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions (accessed November 30, 2018).
2 Hiroko Tabuchi, “With Government in Retreat, Companies Step Up on Emissions,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/climate/with-government-in-retreat-co... (accessed December 3, 2018).
4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,
6 BSR, “Future of Fuels: Fuel Tool v1.2.1,” August 2018, https://www.bsr.org/en/collaboration/groups/future-of-fuels (accessed April 9, 2019).
7 U.S. Energy Information Administration Independent Statistics and Analysis, “Petroleum & Other Liquids,” October 29, 2018, https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel (accessed October 30, 2018).
8 California Energy Commission, “Transportation Energy Demand Forecast 2018-2030,” Revised April 19, 2018, https://efiling.energy.ca.gov/getdocument.aspx?tn=223241 (accessed October 30, 2018).
12 Brittany Shoot, “The World’s Fifth-Largest Economy, California, Just Committed to 100% Carbon-Free Power by 2045,” Fortune, September 10, 2018, http://fortune.com/2018/09/10/california-governor-carbon-free-power-energy (accessed December 4, 2018).
Neste MY | Go Green with Your Fleet Overnight: How sustainable diesel alternatives are impacting the way fleets operate