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Roadmap to net zero: HVO vs diesel and other fuels

Many industries are at a decarbonisation crossroads: is now the right time to switch to cleaner burning alternative Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)? Or is standard diesel still the best route for businesses?

Both fossil fuels and cleaner alternatives will play important roles in the energy transition, helping to pave the path to net zero. But when it comes to evolving your business’ energy mix, knowing which way to turn can be a real challenge.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of HVO vs diesel and other fuels? How does HVO measure up against standard diesel and other alternatives? Here, we delve deeper to help you make an informed choice.

HVO vs diesel

What is the key difference between HVO vs standard diesel?

Standard diesel – also known as white diesel or DERV – is a liquid fuel derived from petroleum through fractional distillation.

HVO is a paraffinic diesel and has similar chemical and physical properties to standard diesel. However, it differs in that it is not a petroleum fuel and is instead produced from renewable waste, such as verified vegetable oils and fats.

HVO’s lower carbon to hydrogen ratio makes it a more sustainable alternative to standard diesel.

What is the composition of HVO vs standard diesel?

Fossil-derived diesel has a high density and is formed of different sized hydrocarbons, as well as sulphur, metals and aromatics, which means it does not burn cleanly. HVO, on the other hand, is composed of uniform hydrocarbon molecules. It has a lower fuel density, is virtually free from aromatics, metals and sulphur content, and has a higher cetane value versus standard diesel fuel.

The result is that HVO can help to improve the cleanliness and efficiency of engines, as well as offer better performance during cold weather.

What sectors are suited to HVO vs standard diesel?

HVO and standard diesel are interchangeable. Both are energy-dense fuels that are used to power on and off-road machinery and vehicles, including in trucks, tractors, plant, trains, boats, generators and more.

Certas Energy is a leading supplier of both DERV and HVO to commercial sectors, including transport, construction, agriculture, marine and rail.

What is the price of HVO vs standard diesel?

The average price of both standard diesel and HVO fluctuates daily and is dependent on a number of factors, including market changes, volume, availability and location.

HVO currently costs slightly more than regular diesel, but the price is expected to decrease as it becomes more widely available. However, the long-term savings should be considered . As HVO is a direct replacement for standard diesel, companies can significantly cut their fuel-related carbon emissions, without any investment in new machinery or infrastructure.

What is the difference in HVO vs standard diesel emissions?

HVO can reduce emissions by up to 90%* compared to standard diesel. However, the level of greenhouse gas emissions savings can vary by product. Savings are based on a life-cycle, well-to-wheel calculation, taking into account feedstock, production processes and transportation.

That’s why it is important to choose a partner who is transparent about their fuel’s governance.

*Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How do you store HVO vs standard diesel?

As it is a direct replacement for standard diesel, HVO does not require a different tank so businesses can use existing tanks to store the fuel. Like all flammable fuel, HVO must be stored in a cool, dry place and should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

HVO also offers a longer shelf life to conventional diesel. As it is practically FAME free*, there is a decreased risk of filter blockages or water contamination of bulk HVO fuel stocks. It is also less harmful to the environment in the event of a leak or spillage, as it is biodegradable.

What is the availability of HVO vs standard diesel?

With an extensive network of depot locations, Certas Energy offers reliable and competitive supply of both premium Certas Energy HVO and DERV to businesses nationwide.

The drop-in renewable fuel is also available at a growing selection of refuelling sites – making Certas Energy the first in the UK to offer HVO fuel to HGV fuel card users at the pump.  The fuel will be rolled out at forecourts in the near future.

What is the effectiveness of HVO vs standard diesel for back-up generators?

HVO is a cost-efficient alternative for powering back-up generators. Not only does it reduce harmful emissions, but it can be stored for up to ten years without spoiling, which far exceeds the shelf-life of standard diesel. This makes it an ideal solution for emergency power generation.

Can HVO be mixed with standard diesel?

HVO fuel is fully interchangeable with traditional diesel and can be mixed at any percentage. This makes it a seamless transition fuel. Given that it can be safely blended with conventional diesel in any ratio, HVO also offers significant flexibility for businesses looking to gradually transition to a cleaner alternative to standard diesel. From split deliveries to delivery in IBCs, Certas Energy provides a number of risk-free flexible fuelling options to ensure the switch is cost-effective and convenient for all customers. 

Finally, why use HVO vs standard diesel?

As the UK moves towards the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, the way we fuel businesses is changing. HVO can help businesses to lower their emissions, with immediate effect. At Certas Energy, we are committed to making the switch simple, swift and seamless for customers.

HVO vs cleaner alternative fuels

HVO vs GTL Fuel

Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) Fuel is a FAME-free fuel that is part of the paraffinic family of fuels. It is a drop-in replacement and can instantly reduce harmful NOx and PM emissions and improve local air quality.

However, GTL Fuel does not lower life-cycle GHG carbon emissions. HVO, therefore, is more suited to businesses who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. GTL Fuel currently has a lower price per litre than HVO, making it an attractive option for businesses looking for a more gradual transition away from standard diesel.


Compressed natural gas (CNG) is methane stored at high pressure. CNG can be used as an alternative to standard diesel, with up to 25% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) and 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) compared to diesel. It is also 30-50% cheaper than standard diesel.

However, compared to the seamless properties of HVO, making the switch can be costly and challenging, particularly when it comes to storage. New tanks are required, and the fuel must be kept at a specific temperature. There is also limited availability in the UK.


Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is gas that has been cooled to liquid form to enable non-pressurised storage or transport. It is safer and more convenient to use than pressurised gases and is popular within the marine sector. It can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25% and nitrogen oxide up to 90% compared to traditional heavy fuel oils. 

However, LNG is a lower energy density fuel and doesn’t deliver the same efficiency benefits as other alternatives, such as HVO. 

HVO vs biodiesel

Biodiesel – also referred to as FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) – is a fuel made from replenishable materials, such as vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. It is biodegradable and can help reduce emissions, including CO2. It can also be blended with diesel and higher percentage blends have been shown to improve miles per gallon.

However, there are maintenance issues related to biodiesel, including clogged filters, which can significantly impact machinery or vehicle downtime. HVO is practically FAME-free*, which means it does not experience the same operational issues. 

HVO vs kerosene

HVO is not just for powering engines or diesel generators. The renewable fuel can also be used as a low carbon heating solution. Although it produces fewer emissions than kerosene, changes are required to the boiler and storage tank. This cost is in the region of around £500 and takes less than an hour to complete. 

HVO vs hydrogen

Hydrogen is promising as a clean, safe and versatile energy source and it is set to play a significant role in the transition to a net zero future. While it has potential as a low-carbon transport fuel, unlike HVO it is not readily available. It also comes with its challenges, including a lack of infrastructure and safe storage. 

HVO vs electricity

Electrification is crucial in the energy mix of the future. However, there are current limitations for wide-scale commercial use, such as insufficient battery range and lack of infrastructure. The electrification of heavy-duty vehicles is also in its infancy. Therefore, it is not a fully formed solution for a zero-emissions future at present. 

Harness the power of HVO

In conclusion, HVO is an innovative and sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels which is proving to be a game-changer in the quest for a cleaner future. From reducing life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions to enhancing engine performance, HVO offers a wide range of advantages that benefit not only the environment but also operational performance.

What’s more, HVO’s compatibility with existing infrastructure and engines makes it a practical and accessible choice for businesses looking to become more sustainable, without sacrificing productivity.

Embracing HVO is not just a choice; it’s a commitment to a better, more environmentally responsible world.

Ready to kickstart your energy transition? Call our HVO Hotline on 0345 456 1800 or get in touch with your local energy experts and make the switch to HVO, today.

Calnedar Purple Icon

shelf life

Temperature Purple Icon

Low temperature performance CFPP to -30 degrees

Puple Recycling Leaf Icon

100% biodegradable

414576_HVO Landing page_Why HVO Icons_Fossil-FAME free-and odourless

Practically FAME/fossil free* and odourless

414576_HVO Landing page_Why HVO Icons_Improved combustion over-some diesel alternatives

Improved combustion over some diesel alternatives

*<1% nominal trace levels only, if not zero.

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