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Release of HVO 100: With chip fat in the transport transition? |

Drivers will soon be able to fill up with HVO 100 diesel fuel. It is made from waste materials such as used vegetable fat. This reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared to fossil diesel. A great thing, right? There are already initial experiences in Hesse.

Andreas Bauer

No, they really don’t sell fries at the gas station, says Kim Backhaus, head of marketing for the energy supplier Roth. To do this you have to go to the fast food restaurant next door. But you can get fuel made from chip fat here in the east of Frankfurt.

The Giessen company Roth has been selling HVO 100 fuel at its gas station for a few weeks now. The abbreviation stands for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils. Diesel fuel is made from vegetable oils and reusable waste materials such as cooking oils and grease residues. The sale of HVO 100 is not yet officially permitted. But that will soon change.

The abbreviation HVO stands for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils. Like biodiesel, these hydrogenated vegetable oils can be added to diesel fuel (for example as diesel R33) or can also be offered in 100 percent pure form, for example as HVO 100.

The product is also offered at the gas pump with the abbreviation XTL in a square logo. This stands for “X to liquid”, a liquid fuel that was made from any raw material: used frying fat from commercial kitchens, for example, cellulose waste, slaughterhouse waste, fish leftovers, algae or manure. The end products are subject to the DIN EN 15940 standard for paraffinic diesel.

Before Easter, the Federal Government and the Federal Council clear the way made for fuel from waste materials. The regulation has not yet been published in the Federal Gazette and is therefore not in force. But it should be ready in a few days.

Offenbach garbage trucks on an HVO test tour

"I'm very happy that it's starting": Roth marketing boss Kim Backhaus at one of the company's gas stations in the east of Frankfurt.

“I’m very happy that it’s starting, we finally have legal certainty,” says Roth marketing boss Backhaus. The gas pump was already a year ago with the striking green design ready for use at the Frankfurt gas station. At that time, sales were still prohibited – the company says it has had permission from the regional council in Darmstadt for a few weeks.

The company advertises the new fuel with: “Made from 100 percent biological residues and waste materials” and “Up to 90 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil diesel.”


“Customers who want to do something about their carbon footprint fill up with us.”
Kim Backhaus, head of marketing at the energy supplier Roth Kim Backhaus, head of marketing at the energy supplier Roth

Quote end

According to Backhaus, four to seven customers come by every day and fill up with the new fuel; the largest customer is the Offenbach public utility company, which is currently test how they can convert their garbage trucks to be climate-friendly can. However, if you want to fill up with HVO 100, you will have to dig deeper into your pockets. A liter costs around 30 cents more compared to standard diesel.

“Customers who want to do something about their CO2 footprint fill up with us,” says Backhaus. This can also be interesting for companies. By certified refueling of your own fleet with HVO 100, you can improve your sustainability reporting and possibly meet requirements. In Austria – where HVO fuels have been around for a long time – the post office, for example, did this.

Even more expensive than standard diesel: the new HVO 100 fuel

“The Roths are real pioneers, they tried it early on,” says Stephan Zieger, managing director of the Federal Association of Independent Gas Stations in Bonn. The new fuel will soon be available at many gas stations. “It will now be quick, the delivery routes have been clarified.”

Scientist: “Germany is a latecomer”

There are still many questions about this. For example, the quality of the new fuel, which is clear as water and smells much more subtle than standard diesel. “HVO 100 is completely inconspicuous for vehicle operation. It is a high-quality fuel,” says Christian Beidl, head of the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines and Vehicle Drives (VKM) at TU Darmstadt.

The institute is currently operating a research vehicle with HVO 100. “The new fuel behaves like a standard diesel fuel and burns even better,” says Beidl.

Many car manufacturers have not yet given approval for the new fuel certified according to the DIN standard EN 15940. “Such approvals are currently only available for some models from the brands Audi, BMW, Citroën/Peugeot/Opel, Nissan, Renault/Dacia, Seat/Cupra, Škoda, Toyota, Volvo and VW,” says the ADAC in a statement. Hyundai and Kia, for example, have not yet given approval, as can be seen from one List of the car club can be seen is. In principle, you can also check the tank cap to see whether the vehicle can be filled with HVO 100 or XTL.

Beidl points out that the fuel has been established for years in other countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and California. “Germany is a real latecomer,” he says. For a long time there was no positive political will in this country to promote the introduction of HVO 100.

“I suspect because people thought that this would harm electromobility. I think that is a fallacy,” says Beidl. Both benefited from each other because they both prepared the ground for green mobility.

FDP and Greens on a collision course

In fact, there were skirmishes until the end. The lines of conflict ran primarily between Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) and Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens). In Wissing’s opinion, HVO 100 can make an “effective contribution to reducing emissions in the existing fleet”.

The Federal Environment Ministry, however, argued that HVO fuel is not fundamentally sustainable. “HVO is only sustainable if sustainable raw materials are used for production,” it said. It is also questionable to what extent the new fuel will be available.

The Hessian Ministry of the Environment expressed similar concerns: “The quantitative share of fuels from certain biogenic waste in the total fuel requirement will only be very small,” said a spokeswoman. In this respect, the potential for reducing CO2 emissions from transport is “minimal”.

Christian Beidl, head of the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines and Vehicle Drives (VKM) at TU Darmstadt, says:

“With HVO fuels, as with all renewable fuels, we have a closed CO2 cycle. Plants first bind the CO2. This then creates biogenic residues and waste materials that are processed into fuel. When burned, the CO2 is released again However, the CO2 emissions balance is balanced; there is no additional entry of CO2 into the atmosphere. With fossil fuels, however, CO2 is released that was bound millions of years ago. The cycle still exists, but the time scale is not correct it is not sustainable.

When it is said that the CO2 emissions of HVO fuels are up to 95 percent lower than those of fossil fuels, this refers to the fact that production and logistics now generate unavoidable CO2 emissions that are taken into account during certification . Unfortunately, this makes it more complicated than with electric vehicles, where the CO2 emissions of the charging current are not taken into account.”

"Germany is a real latecomer": Christian Beidl, head of the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines and Vehicle Drives (VKM) at TU Darmstadt

Scientist Beidl from TU Darmstadt points out that “we don’t have enough of all renewable energy sources.” That’s why it’s even more important to exploit all potential. However, he is surprised at how quickly companies like Neste managed to increase production volumes.

The Finnish company Neste is one of the largest HVO producers in Europe alongside Shell, the Italian energy group Eni and the Spanish Repsol and claims to produce three million tonnes of renewable diesel every year.

The company expects that biogenic fuels can replace around one billion tonnes of crude oil by 2040, which would account for around 40 percent of global transport demand.

Of course, it will still take a while until then. In any case, the Roth company is planning to convert 14 gas stations – twelve of them in Hesse – to HVO 100 in the coming weeks.

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