In the future, drivers will also be able to fill up with diesel that is made 100 percent from waste materials such as chip fat. The Federal Cabinet has cleared the way for this. The Federal Council had previously approved the relevant regulation. So-called paraffinic diesel fuels, which consist of waste materials and vegetable oils, are to be approved as pure fuel in May.

Until now, this type of fuel could only be used if it was mixed with regular diesel fuel. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, the permitted admixture proportion was 26 percent.

With the new regulation coming into force, eco-diesel may also be offered in 100 percent concentration in the future. The Federal Environment Ministry points out that the eco-diesel HVO, which the new regulation affects, has so far only been added to around two percent, “although technically and legally more would be possible,” it says.

“Important step for more climate protection”

HVO stands for “hydrotreated vegetable oil” – hydrogenated vegetable oil. According to the information, in addition to HVO diesel, 100 percent of paraffinic diesel fuels made from fossil raw materials such as natural gas will be allowed in the tank in the future. That hasn’t been the case so far. The previously possible addition of biofuel should remain for both types of fuel. The Environment Ministry, led by the Greens, and the Transport Department, led by the FDP, assess the benefits and opportunities of the fuel differently.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing called the release of HVO 100 an “important step for more climate protection in transport”. The fuel is particularly high quality and sustainable. HVO produced from waste and residual materials can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent compared to fossil diesel, said the FDP politician. “The fuel has proven itself in practice, is available on an industrial scale and is generally suitable for modern diesel engines.” HVO 100 can make an effective contribution to reducing emissions in the existing fleet.

The Federal Environment Ministry, however, argues that HVO fuel is not fundamentally sustainable. “HVO is only sustainable if sustainable raw materials are used for production,” it says. The fuel could also be made from palm oil, which, according to the Ministry of the Environment, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and major losses in biodiversity. It is also hardly possible to subsequently prove the raw materials used in the production of the fuel. This means that drivers cannot know at the pump whether they are filling up with sustainable fuel or not.

Criticism from the Ministry of the Environment

According to the Ministry of Transport, according to the Federal Emissions Control Act, palm oil is excluded as a raw material for biofuels from being counted towards the greenhouse gas reduction quota. In this respect, there is no incentive to bring HVO produced from palm oil onto the market. HVO made from waste and residual materials is exempt from the increasing CO2 prices: “HVO is therefore also an economically attractive option in the medium term for reducing individual CO2 emissions in road traffic.”

From the perspective of the Ministry of the Environment, it is also questionable to what extent the new fuel will be available. Used cooking oils – for example from the catering industry – are already used entirely as an admixture in transport and cannot be increased. This currently only reduces CO2 emissions from vehicles slightly.

“If the existing amount of sustainable HVO diesel were used as a pure fuel, it would only be enough for a small number of vehicles,” said a spokesman for Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens). There is therefore no additional benefit to climate protection from fueling a few vehicles with pure sustainable fuel instead of adding it to the entire fleet.