Royal Mail Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil HGV
Source: Royal Mail

Royal Mail Initiates Transition to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), Advancing Towards Sustainable HGV Fueling


Royal Mail is making significant strides by transitioning some of its Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) to run on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), a renewable diesel alternative.

The first sites to undergo this transition are the Sheffield mail center, Midlands Super Hub, and Manchester vehicle operating center.

In the coming months, four more locations will follow suit. The selection of these sites is strategic, based on the significant volumes of movement for major customers. This transition is projected to result in a combined saving of 2.1 million liters of diesel consumption this year.

“We’ve made great progress in decarbonizing our operation by introducing 5,000 electric vehicles into our final mile fleet, but we also need to focus on our HGVs,” said Rob Fowler, Fleet Director at Royal Mail.

“At present, the electric and hydrogen alternatives are still in development for HGVs. Vehicle ranges are low, purchase prices are high and infrastructure is in its infancy.

“That is why we have introduced the use of HVO to decarbonize the HGV fleet within our operation via the most viable low-carbon option.

“We consider HVO to be a transitional fuel that helps us to take steps towards decarbonizing our HGV fleet whilst low-emissions technologies continue to advance in this area.

“We will continue to assess and test other emerging low emission technologies that we could potentially deploy in our larger fleet including electric and hydrogen HGVs.

“Many of these technologies are still in development and are currently not commercially viable to deploy at scale.”

Royal Mail’s Steps to Zero Plan

The adoption of HVO forms an integral part of Royal Mail’s Steps to Zero plan, a comprehensive initiative aimed at achieving net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2040.

As part of this ambitious plan, Royal Mail has set a long-term target to reduce its average emissions per parcel to just 50gCO2e. Remarkably, at 218gCO2e, Royal Mail already stands as the UK’s greenest option for letters and parcels.

Furthermore, this shift to HVO aligns with the increasing demand from Royal Mail’s customers to minimize emissions.

The company intends to further expand the use of HVO across its local and national distribution fleet network in the coming years, with a goal of reducing its direct emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes of CO2e.

HVO, as a drop-in, fossil-free biofuel, offers the advantage of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, potentially cutting up to 90 percent of these emissions, according to data from Certas Energy. Moreover, it does not require any modifications to the engine or fuelling infrastructure.

To support the initial deployment of HVO, Royal Mail has partnered with Certas Energy, who will provide valuable assistance throughout the rollout process during the first year.

“We are delighted to support Royal Mail in making significant strides in their energy transition. Certas Energy HVO is a transformative transitional fuel, helping Royal Mail to dramatically reduce emissions, with immediate effect and without sacrificing productivity,” added Jamie Hodges, Head of National Accounts at Certas Energy.

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