Bio-based Fuels Can Help Brokers, Shippers and Carriers

Tyler Cole, host of FreightWaves' Net-Zero Carbon podcast, recently sat down with Todd Ellis, Chevron Renewable Energy Group's Vice President of Sales and Marketing to talk about how bio-based fuels can help provide lower carbon solutions for fleets, today. For an in-depth look at all the solutions and why bio-based fuels are viewed to be an effective option, we conducted this Q&A.

 Freightwaves Tyler Cole headshot

Tyler Cole
Host of Net-Zero Carbon

 Todd Ellis headshot

Todd Ellis, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Chevron Renewable Energy Group



Q: In a recent survey of brokers, shippers and carriers, 40% of respondents indicated that they have established carbon reduction goals. However, 22% said they are actively working on setting those targets. How can Chevron Renewable Energy Group help the 22% achieve those targets?

TE: The use of bio-based fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel is one of the easiest ways to make an immediate impact to a fleet’s carbon emissions. These fuels can generally be integrated without any changes or investment in new equipment or storage infrastructure. We at Chevron Renewable Energy Group support all carbon reduction solutions, but we also recognize that some are quite a long way away from being a viable industry-wide solution whether due to technological, cost, infrastructure barriers or a combination of the three.

For instance, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that only 19% of heavy-duty trucks will be electrified by 2040, so the internal combustion engine will be around for quite some time. By contrast, bio-based fuels are available today and can be used in existing engine technology, typically without any additional investment. And beyond the ease of transition benefits, Chevron Renewable Energy Group can help estimate our customers’ carbon reduction impact through our monthly GHG emissions reports.

Q & A continues below


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Q: For those fleets that don't have immediate plans to set carbon emission goals, what advice would you give about their fuel choices?

TE: My advice would be to strongly consider taking some simple steps to demonstrate your readiness to set carbon reduction initiatives. Being able to do so will start to become increasingly important in order to remain competitive and responsive in this changing market.

For instance, Fortune reports that 58% of Fortune 500® companies have goals to reach net zero by 2050, which is a pretty drastic increase from only a year prior. Among those 58%, roughly half of them already have plans in place to reduce Scope 3 emissions in their supply chain.

Q: In practical terms, what does that mean for those shippers?

TE: What that means is that shippers increasingly favor carriers who have demonstrated carbon reduction efforts to ship their products. And while initiating a carbon reduction program may be an intimidating prospect for some carriers, you can take a simple step today by piloting or trialing bio-based fuels if you are not ready for full integration.

With the help of Chevron Renewable Energy Group, we can help quantify that carbon reduction, so your company can use that in RFP responses to set yourself apart. It’s a simple step that’s not only good for the planet but may also be good for business. Publicly promoting a trial can help you get noticed by existing and prospective customers.

Q: Some of the top perceived barriers for fleets to adopt biodiesel and renewable diesel include price, performance and effectiveness at reducing carbon emissions. How would you address those concerns?

TE: Put simply, those are many misconceptions about bio-based fuels. I’ll address each of them one by one.

  • In terms of price, B20 biodiesel blends and renewable diesel have both been relatively consistent with the price of petroleum diesel over the last five years. Plus, their use typically requires no additional equipment investment.
  • In terms of performance, biodiesel provides additional benefits such as enhanced lubricity and cetane content. This results in improved engine combustion, reduced DPF clogging and reduced regenerations. When looking at renewable diesel, it’s considered a direct replacement to petroleum diesel, and users should expect it to perform identically.
  • In terms of carbon reduction effectiveness the effectiveness of biodiesel to reduce carbon often surprises people. In fact, it’s among one of the most effective solutions – and probably the easiest to implement. Here are a few stats that might surprise you:
    • Compared to petroleum diesel, biodiesel and renewable diesel may reduce carbon emissions by up to 100%. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), biodiesel reduces total hydrocarbon by 70%, while renewable diesel does so by 40%.
  • Compared to electric, a 2020 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed battery-electric transit buses to have an estimated energy efficiency ratio of 3.8, which suggests biodiesel may actually be 56% more effective at reducing carbon than electric when taking the grid into consideration.
  • Lastly, when looking at carbon intensity scores, as determined by CARB, biodiesel has been consistently lower than both liquid natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen for years.  So, in short, bio-based fuels are just as effective, and often more so, than other solutions being explored – most of which will likely require infrastructure, new equipment investments or both that aren’t required with biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Q: Any parting words?

TE: Carbon reduction is something that carriers and brokers across all modes will have to begin demonstrating in order to remain competitive, and we believe biodiesel is not only likely the easiest solution to implement today, it’s also perhaps the most effective. I’d encourage listeners to check out our complete line of EnDura FuelsTM.


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