The end of red diesel: preparing the way for more sustainable fleets

4th February 2022

Pressure on logistics companies to ‘go green’ continues to gather momentum. And with this demand comes the focus on sustainable fuel sources, including those used for operating transport refrigeration units.

This is evidenced by the impending ban on red diesel in the UK, beginning 1st April 2022. We say “ban” but all that’s really happening is the entitlement to use rebated fuel for certain industries (logistics, mining etc.) is being withdrawn.

It’s all part of the UK’s stated goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and many European leaders are likely to follow in the footsteps of Britain’s ambitions.  

Aligning to the direction of travel

In reality this change in legislation leaves Fleet Owners with higher diesel prices that reflect growing environmental costs. A situation that adds further impetus to the need to embrace suitable alternatives such as biodiesel, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) or full electric alternatives. 

And of course, such an end result helps highlight the overall purpose driving such legislation: to encourage the long-term use of more environmentally friendly fuel sources and sustainable technologies. A direction of travel that has been evident for some time, as governments dial up the compliance restrictions surrounding CO2 and particle pollution emissions to improve air quality.

The question now of course is how should Fleet Managers respond? What can they do to implement a transition strategy that fits neatly with the status of their current fleet and future business priorities?

At Thermo King we’d answer “a lot”, and highlight five areas to focus in on.

1] Fuel efficiency

The move from red to white diesel alone brings with it a steep rise in fuel prices. An estimate of the price variance between the two being from 65p to 150p/per liter – a potential difference of 85p for every litre purchased.

What’s therefore of critical importance is to utilize technologies proven to combine high reliability and low emissions, with the lowest possible levels of fuel consumption. Advances in innovative design, as you can witness across Thermo King’s portfolio of technologies, continue to deliver impressive savings – thereby helping to reduce the business impact of soaring fuel costs.

2] Compliance

The restriction on red diesel, which we anticipate will inevitably be adopted by other European nations, is of course not the only compliance legislation that Fleet Managers have to contend with. Emissions, be they CO2 or noise, continue to be targeted from the long-haul to the last mile.

It therefore makes sense that any upgrade in transport refrigeration includes technology able to meet the most stringent of compliance demands today, while anticipating and addressing the needs of tomorrow. Think Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZs) and NRMM Stage V legislation as good examples, which Thermo King units have long complied with.

3] Fleet sustainability

For many owners and managers, balance is becoming a key word in terms of fleet capability and sustainability; Balance in the investment of modernization initiatives, and balance in the types of technologies deployed – from diesel through hybrid architectures to fully-electric units.

What matters is putting innovation to work in covering every scenario and possible customer demand. That’s why Thermo King has focused heavily on building a complete range of technologies to help you find the ideal solution each and every time: from taking the energy from the prime mover’s main drive whether combustion or battery electric, to the generation on energy from Axels to supply the energy.

4] Performance

For those now denied red diesel prices, the long-term viability of diesel itself may now be in question. Especially when technologies utilizing alternate fuel sources such as hybrid, biodiesel, LNG, CNG, and electric are readily available.

The decision to stick with what you’ve got or invest in new however, is ultimately going to be based on available budget, and the performance improvements needed to justify any spend. Fuel efficiency will be an obvious metric here, but not the only one. Other factors such as cooling efficiency, airflow, and pull-down (all of which impact fuel consumption), as well as measures like uptime and maintenance cycles, should influence any final assessment – numbers that Thermo King is happy to share.

5] Transition point

This last area relates to your future plans for maintaining a high-performance, compliant fleet, while also phasing in new technologies and innovations. Every fleet is of course different, with a distinct mix of vehicles varying by size, age, condition, and green credentials. Equally each fleet is designed to take on unique tasks and customer commitments. But whatever your current situation, Thermo King is a technology partner able to help optimize operations. So, whether your current transition point, be that predominantly diesel trailers, small electric vans, or somewhere in between, we can help keep you fuel efficient and always compliant.

In summary

The ending of red diesel entitlements for the logistics industry will certainly prove a challenge for many. But amid the concern of higher fuel bills can be found an opportunity to use this change as the inspiration for transitioning to more environmentally sustainable technologies. A decision that Thermo King can help support your journey to net zero.

To find out more, contact your nearest dealer.