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Biobased Diesel Fuel Seen As Potential Climate Change Solution
diesel tech

Low-cost, low-carbon but high greenhouse gas reducing impact describes the opportunity for using biobased diesel fuel as helping achieve climate change. Biofuels are a ready solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change. A virtual session in mid-April hosted by the Diesel Technology Forum is now available in a recorded version for online viewing.

“Diesel is the power of work and it moves 97 percent of large Class 8 trucks and bigger applications like locomotives, marine vessels and construction equipment. Unlike passenger cars, where there are zero-emissions options available today and consumers are warming to them, the promise of zero-emissions solutions in heavy-duty sectors is in the future,” said Ezra Finkin, session organizer and moderator, and also Policy Director for the suburban Washington, DC-based Diesel Technology Forum, an educational association representing diesel engine and equipment makers, suppliers and fuels interests. “Today, more efficient diesel engines coupled with very low carbon biobased diesel fuels like renewable diesel and biodiesel, can do quite a lot to reduce emissions immediately.”

For those that believe that electrification is the only strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this session provided important new perspectives on how to think about greenhouse gas reduction timelines and the broad suitability of biobased diesel fuels to be used immediately across wide sectors of the economy. And, through discussion of case studies of public and private fleets in California, demonstrated the proven success of biobased diesel fuels in real-world applications.

“The way we have been thinking of greenhouse gas emissions is not quite accurate. What we emit today stays in the atmosphere long after it has been emitted. Waiting for the promise of zero-emissions solutions actually makes the problem worse as it does nothing to address cumulative emissions,” noted David Slade, Executive Director, Biofuel Technology and Services - Renewable Energy Group, Inc. “When it comes to solutions to reduce emissions from the heavy-duty sector, we should rely on biobased diesel fuel to do the most to reduce these emissions today as zero-emissions solutions in some applications are planned for the future.”

As policymakers move to tackle the climate change challenge on a local, regional and national level, a mix of near-term and longer-term strategies for the transportation sector are emerging. While all-electric and zero emissions strategies may dominate headlines, it is increasingly clear that they may not be available or suitable for all sectors in the immediate future.

“Biodiesel and renewable diesel are low carbon and low-cost fuels that are helping to reduce emissions today from trucks, buses and large equipment. Both are derived from waste feedstocks like vegetable oils and animal fats and their use does not require expensive investments in refueling or recharging infrastructure or the purchase of new trucks or engines,” highlighted Jennifer Weaver, OEM Market Development Manager - National Biodiesel Board. “Diesel engines old and new can use these fuels to deliver big benefits. The market for these fuels has grown as the U.S. consumed about 3 billion gallons of biobased diesel fuel in 2020 and the market is set to double by 2030.”

The use of renewable biofuels in diesel vehicles and equipment is an effective greenhouse gas mitigation strategy that every public and private fleet should have access to right alongside other solutions. The nature of tackling the climate challenge, its urgency and complexity, dictate that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Fleets are already adopting these very low carbon and very low-cost fuels to realize big benefits. Relative to zero-emissions solutions, these are low-cost options available today that do not require fleets to replace trucks and engines with expensive new powertrains or rely on recharging networks,” noted Carrie Song, Vice President, Renewable Road Transport, North America - Neste. “The City of Oakland, CA since 2015 has been using renewable diesel in all of its fleet of heavy-duty trucks, equipment and generators to realize 3,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced each year.”

Investments in renewable diesel and biodiesel production are expanding rapidly both from conventional biofuel producers as well as the existing petroleum refining sector, signaling a strategy of greater access to low carbon fuels nationwide that will enable more governments and private fleets viable options to meet the near-term climate challenge head-on.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel, and technology. Members of the Diesel Technology Forum are the leaders in advanced technology engines, vehicles, fuels, and equipment, both diesel and a range of alternative fuels, including electrification, hydrogen, natural gas, and others. For more information visit