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Future-proofing diesel engines with renewable diesel — Net-Zero Carbon

Demand for renewable diesel expected to grow fivefold by 2030, says Neste VP of sales


On this episode of Net-Zero Carbon, Tyler Cole, director of carbon intelligence at FreightWaves, is joined by Carrie Song, vice president of sales at Neste, and Tim Johnson, senior vice president of Diesel Direct, to discuss the many benefits of renewable diesel as a drop-in replacement fuel for conventional diesel. 

Many alternative fuels or electrification solutions promise lower emissions and reduced costs of ownership, but renewable diesel is one of the few options available today for fleets to decarbonize, they agreed.

Neste is the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel, according to Song, who said the Espoo, Finland-based company’s renewable diesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% without compromising performance or requiring engine modifications or additional infrastructure.

Renewable diesel has the same chemical composition as conventional diesel, and it is produced using feedstocks such as waste oils and fats. But it’s not the same as biodiesel.

“In a nutshell, renewable diesel is diesel. However, renewable diesel is not biodiesel,” Song said.

Read: Renewable diesel: Environmental and economic sustainability meet head-on

Neste has predicted that demand for renewable diesel will grow “fivefold by the end of the decade,” Song said. As more companies, cities and states aim to lower transportation-related emissions, she said that demand for renewable diesel will grow.

“The clients are now asking, ‘How long before we can be 100% renewable diesel?’” Johnson said, pointing out that Diesel Direct’s customers are communicating that they are ready to switch to renewable diesel. 

Cole said, “I think we’re starting to get some inroads with people, educating them, making them aware that this fuel and this product exists and is available and has all of these myriad benefits, so hopefully we continue to see this hockey stick growth.”

Legislation’s role and the future of renewable diesel

“It’s extremely popular nationwide,” Johnson said. He said that as legislation supporting renewable diesel comes down the pipe and Neste expands into more states, Diesel Direct will be right there with it.

Johnson said that customers are asking for renewable diesel by name, whether or not there is legislation to make it cost competitive with conventional diesel because of the health benefits of renewable diesel. 

Renewable diesel releases fewer air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

“We need that strong awareness for people to realize this is something that we cannot wait for. We need to take action today. We need to get more advocacy efforts to cities, to states, to governments, to different countries, to drive that support from the policy perspective,” Song said. 

She said that would encourage more suppliers to produce renewable diesel and increase awareness among companies that this is an option to fuel their diesel trucks.

Song said that climate change is a battle that “we just can’t afford to wait” to act on. And right now, “there are a lot of segments that can’t be easily electrified,” she said. Song hopes that companies “take an action today” with a solution that can reduce emissions and work in diesel engines now.

View all of FreightWaves’ Net-Zero Carbon episodes and sustainability stories.

Revolutionizing diesel combustion — Net-Zero Carbon

Should trucking focus on empty miles or electric vehicles? — Net-Zero Carbon

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.