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BAM Commits Support to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil as Fuel Source

BAM Commits Support to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil as Fuel Source
13 December 2022

Construction firm BAM has published a position paper on the use of biofuels, lending its support to hydrotreated vegetable oil as a carbon-saving fuel source.

The paper evaluates the arguments for and against using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuels.

BAM started using HVO in mid-2021 as a transition fuel towards electrification of construction site operations, and has since undertaken due diligence concerning HVO’s sustainability credentials.

John Wilkinson, Chief Operating Officer of BAM UK and Ireland, explained: “HVO was initially regarded by our industry as a silver bullet to significantly decarbonise construction processes. It sounded too good to be true. On careful examination of the evidence, however we are satisfied that HVO is a less damaging liquid fuel compared to diesel. Ultimately it is better to base our position on what is known rather than what is inferred and based upon unproven, multi-layered cascades of interdependencies.”


What are HVO Fuels?


HVO is a biofuel that is sourced from 100 per cent waste biomass and has been produced as an alternative to regular diesel. DEFRA’s annual carbon emissions factors for all greenhouse gas emission scopes for all commonly used fuels in 2022 show that HVO used in the UK has an 85 per cent reduction compared to average diesel.

Objections to using HVO fuel focus mainly on the provenance of its supply and whether this has a negative effect on changes to land use, like deforestation, in favour of energy-crop cultivation leading to a net gain in emissions. This is known as ILUC – indirect land-use change. BAM’s says that this issue isn’t proven for HVO since the vast majority is produced from waste products – primarily used cooking oil (UCO). 100 per cent of biofuel in the UK is from waste, with UCO representing 93 per cent of that.


“The world has a climate emergency. Until cleaner forms or energy are more viable for use in our industry, we believe the use of HVO is the most favourable solution.”

–Sarah Jolliffe

Carbon Reduction Lead, BAM


Sarah Jolliffe, BAM’s Carbon Reduction Lead, said: “What remains clear is that if one does not accept the use of HVO fuel, the only true alternative at present for many of the more energy intensive activities across the construction industry is by prolonging the use of more harmful fossil fuels. The eco-toxicity reduction alone is a good enough reason to opt for biofuels including HVO. 

“HVO fuel reduces carbon emissions by upwards of 85 per cent by comparison across scope 1 and scope 3 well-to-tank (WTT) emissions. 

“The world has a climate emergency. Until cleaner forms or energy are more viable for use in our industry, we believe the use of HVO is the most favourable solution.”


Certification for HVOs


Certification is crucial in the debate around the sustainable use of HVO. BAM commits to only using HVO that is sourced from 100 per cent waste feedstocks, and suppliers must provide batch-level certification for every litre of HVO supplied to BAM projects. BAM says that it ensures all HVO supplied to its projects is certified by the ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) and ZEMO’s Renewable Fuels Assurance Scheme.

These certification requirements are being further strengthened in 2023 with the introduction of the “Bioledger”, led by the European Waste-based & Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA).

The “Bioledger” is a compliance platform that allows biofuels businesses to perform the standard daily procedures required to comply with European market regulations. Digital data capture and analytics are integrated into the software, as is live tracking of drivers, historic transaction data and dashboards to aggregate, split and transfer consignments. Transactions are recorded as encrypted blocks within the Bioledger blockchain ensuring BioLedger credits cannot be forged, duplicated or hidden during an audit.

Sarah Jolliffe, BAM’s Carbon Reduction Lead, added: “The existing and planned certification regimes give us confidence that there is a robust process to ensure that only waste UCO is used in the HVO we procure.

“Because our position is evidence-based, we keep it under review. The government is reviewing its policy on biomass as part of the UK’s energy mix and is due to publish its biomass strategy imminently. We will update our processes accordingly.”

BAM’s position paper is available here.

Picture: a photograph of a person wearing a BAM branded hard hat holding a sign that says "Powered by plants". Behind the person is a piece of heavy plant machinery/construction vehicle which has been decorated with plants and vegetables. Image Credit: BAM

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 13 December 2022


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