Yellow mobile crane installs concrete hollowcore floors on a new build construction site

Not All HVO Fuels Are Equal & Why It Matters

Matt Waddingham Managing Director Cadman Cranes headshot

Written by

Matt Waddingham, Managing Director

Cadman Cranes



HVO fuel (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil), with its eco-credentials and sustainable production method, has been championed as the poster boy for a green alternative to red diesel.

As the drive towards more sustainable practices gains pace, plant operators across the UK are making the switch to HVO fuel without any huge outlay or inconvenience. Made from renewable feedstocks such as vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oils through a process called hydrogenation, HVO has properties which are very similar to conventional diesel. Offering many benefits, including a reduction in CO2 emissions by up to 90% and excellent cold weather performance, HVO fuel has quickly become the go-to alternative within the construction industry.

However, there are some wider considerations to think about when selecting HVO fuel for its environmental impact.

We have been running all of our mobile cranes on HVO fuel since 2021, and all of our support vehicles since the start of 2023, something that we are incredibly proud of. As a business, it was important to us to find an alternative fuel which not only provided the same efficiency as diesel, but also ticked all the boxes when it came to our sustainable goals. HVO stood out as a compelling option, yet we soon realised there was more to it than simply selecting one brand of HVO fuel and rolling with it.

After conducting research into the eco-credentials of HVO fuel, we soon discovered that not all HVO fuels are equal. While they shared the same characteristics, there were a number of different factors which impacted the production of different HVO fuels, ultimately meaning that some were more sustainable than others. With more and more HVO fuels becoming available on the market, selecting the most environmental version became a top priority for our business. As it turned out, the selection process wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

Differences in feedstocks, production processes, and the overall environmental impact of its lifecycle all had an impact on the green credentials of different HVO fuels. Fuels produced from waste oils or sustainably sourced feedstocks tended to have lower environmental impacts compared to those produced from virgin vegetable oils or feedstocks associated with deforestation.

So what were the key components we looked at when finding the right HVO fuel for us?

First and foremost we looked at the feedstocks used in its production. Rather than opting for a fuel which was derived from substances such as palm oil, which is notorious for its connection to deforestation, we wanted to choose an option which had a much lower environmental impact. Opting for a HVO fuel which used 100% biodegradable materials in its production, such as waste fats and vegetable oils proved to be a no-brainer.

Secondly, we had to take into account its production and manufacturing process. Again, this isn’t a one size fits all approach and the specific hydrotreating process used to convert the feedstock into HVO can vary between manufacturers. Different processing techniques may yield fuels with varying properties such as cetane number, cold flow properties, and stability. Plus some HVO fuels may contain additives to improve performance, stability, and emissions characteristics which also has an impact on its sustainability.

One way in which we could guarantee the traceability of the fuel was to look for suppliers which help specific sustainable accreditations. These included the International Sustainable & Carbon Certification (ISSCC), Renewable Fuels Assurance Scheme (RFAS) and being a Zemo Partnership Member.

At Cadman Cranes, our transition to HVO fuel was driven not only by its efficiency but also by our commitment to sustainability. However, this journey revealed that not all HVO fuels are created equal. For us, selecting a fuel derived from waste oils and produced through transparent, sustainable processes was paramount. A number of leading brands ensure the highest standards of sustainability and have supported our transition since making the switch. By prioritising traceability and choosing fuels with minimal environmental impact, businesses can truly embrace the green potential of HVO fuel while advancing toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.

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