Electrification is going a long way in decarbonizing small vehicles (like passenger cars) in the global transportation sector, which produces about 16% of global emissions. But for long-haul transportation: trucking, shipping and the aviation industries, electrification is far from being technologically ready. Enter a controversial solution: biodiesel. Biodiesel is a fuel derived from organic matter like plants, algae or animal fats, which started to popularize globally just this century. However, early generation biodiesel had its drawbacks: first - they are not a perfect replacement for the fuels used in diesel engines, and can only be used as an additive to fossil diesel: decreasing, but not eliminating carbon emissions. Then there was the fact that clearing forest land to grow crops to make biodiesel could produce more emissions than just using fossil diesel.
Two companies: Neste and ClearFlame, are among a growing cohort of energy producers exploring more sustainable replacements to diesel fuels.We spoke with Chris Cooper and Matt Leuck (Neste) and BJ Johnson (ClearFlame) about the use of renewable liquid fuels, like renewable diesel that is made from organic waste (like spent cooking oil), that can be used as a 100% replacement for fossil diesel in engines. Stay tuned for Climate Now’s next episode, where we explore how renewable diesel is produced, how it compares in terms of environmental impact relative to fossil- and first generation bio-diesels, and how much and how fast the market for renewable diesels could grow.