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 Council approved a federal government regulation that paves the way for the introduction of biodiesel.

So-called paraffinic diesel fuels, which are made from waste materials and vegetable oils, are also approved as pure fuel. Until now, they could only be mixed with conventional diesel at a maximum of 7 percent. In the future, they should also be able to sell 100 percent biodiesel made from certified, sustainable residues and waste materials. These are mostly old fats from commercial kitchens, but also leftover wood, cellulose waste or fish leftovers. The abbreviation HVO100 means Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils: Vegetable oils treated with hydrogen – 100 percent.

Since biodiesel causes less CO2 than conventional diesel, this should also make a contribution to climate protection. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, there are more than 14 million cars, trucks and other vehicles with diesel engines on the road in Germany today. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said: “With HVO100 we can reduce CO2 emissions in transport in the short term.” The savings are up to 95 percent compared to conventional diesel.

More expensive than conventional diesel

As the Federal Association of Independent Gas Stations (BfT) announced, biodiesel is now used exclusively in local public transport, by logistics operators and in agriculture; It is not yet freely available at gas stations. But the potential in the freight forwarding and logistics industry is great: “We estimate that 80 percent of HVO use will be commercial.”

It is questionable, however, to what extent the new fuel will be available in the future. According to VDB, global HVO production is expected to exceed 30 million tons by 2025. Finnish HVO manufacturer Neste expects that biogenic fuels can replace around 1 billion tonnes of crude oil by 2040, accounting for around 40 percent of global transport demand.

However, due to higher production costs, biodiesel is more expensive than its conventional equivalent. Based on experiences in other European countries where HVO has long been refueled, it is 15 to 20 cents per liter more expensive than fossil diesel, as the BfT announced. The Federal Association of Medium-Sized Energy Companies (Uniti), which organizes 40 percent of street filling stations, expects “that HVO100 will be particularly interesting for fleet operators in the first start-up phase”: This will make it easier for them to achieve CO2 targets even with existing vehicles. If HVO-100 diesel were to have an energy tax exemption compared to fossil diesel, it would further help the economy and the climate.

Basically suitable for all diesel cars, official approval is often missing

“Modern diesel engines are generally suitable for this,” said Wissing when asked whether HVO100 was harmful to the engine. “There is no need for any technical adjustments or conversions to the vehicles or the nationwide filling station network,” says a statement from ADAC, Uniti, the automotive industry, logistics associations and some truck manufacturers. However, the ADAC points out that the approval of fuel for an engine is generally the responsibility of the vehicle manufacturer. “Such approvals are currently only available for a few models from the brands Audi, BMW, Citroën/Peugeot/Opel, Nissan, Renault/Dacia, Seat/Cupra, Škoda, Toyota, Volvo and VW.” There is an “urgent need for further comprehensive manufacturer approvals for existing car models” so that HVO100 is accepted by consumers.

It is not yet entirely clear when the new fuel will be available. Uniti announced that the small and medium-sized gas station sector “is in the starting blocks”: After approval in the Federal Council, HVO100 could go on sale to the public on April 13th. According to ADAC, biodiesel will not be immediately available at every gas station, “but will gradually be offered across the board.”

Associations support the decision

The Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) nevertheless spoke of a “good day for the environment and the climate”. Renewable fuels could make a significant contribution to achieving climate goals in the transport sector, says VDA President Hildegard Müller. “On the path to climate-neutral transport, renewable fuels are the appropriate and urgently necessary addition to the mainstay of electromobility.”

The ADAC automobile club also spoke of a “further step towards lower CO2 emissions for vehicles with petrol or diesel engines”. Comprehensive approval from car manufacturers is now urgently needed and quickly so that the new fuels are accepted by consumers.