STORY Power Generation

“HVO is our ‘first choice’ fuel for new installations”

Posted on July 03, 2023 by Lucie Maluck

Data centres can generate much less polluting emergency power at a stroke - if they rely on HVO as a fuel. Ben Pritchard, the new CEO of AVK, the UK's largest provider of emergency power solutions for data centres, explains how the use of HVO makes sense.
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Say good-bye to diesel fuel, but not to your diesel engine! With HVO, you can reduce your CO2 emissions by up to 90%. It's already making a major contribution to climate protection and can help you fast-track your sustainability.
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Ben Pritchard, your company knows a thing or two about HVO. You've helped many of your clients make the switch to HVO. Together, your customers have now used over two million litres of HVO in mtu engines. Why are you an HVO fan?

HVO is the perfect solution. The fuel burns cleaner than fossil diesel, is easier to store and can also be used in extremely cold temperatures. In addition, it is free of aromatics, sulphur and metals, odourless and completely biodegradable.  

You have also proven these good properties in tests.

Exactly. We wanted to show in practice that HVO delivers what it promises on paper. Therefore, we carried out a series of tests with existing power units.  

Ben Pritchard has been CEO at AVK since April 2023. The company supports its customers in switching from fossil diesel to HVO.

And what were the results?

We already know that for every 1,000 litres of diesel burned, we’re producing approximately 3.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas CO2, compared to just 195kg greenhouse gas CO2 for every 1,000 litres of HVO burned. Simply by switching diesel for HVO, our clients are reducing their net CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% right away - well to tank.  

But what does that equate to real terms? If a 60MVA site had to run continuously at 100% load for a period of 36 hours due to the lack of availability of grid power (let’s face it, this is what standby generators are designed to do), then the total fuel consumption across the backup generator engines would be approximately 15,225l of diesel per hour. That’s a lot of diesel burned, and a lot of CO2 produced keeping the power running and supporting the critical infrastructure. When we look at the parameters of the site involved running on HVO as opposed to diesel, the switch would mean a saving of 1.86 million tonnes of CO2 over the course of the shutdown. That’s the equivalent of taking 1000 average size family diesel cars off the road for a whole year.

But the reductions in CO2 are just one element to consider.

Exactly. But we also compared the particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HC) emissions of HVO in comparison to standard diesel – all of which produced some significant savings and created an immediate improvement in local air quality. Using the same example site as earlier, running on HVO as per the 36-hour shutdown above, the particulate matter savings would be around 51.101 kg (>30%).  

Putting this into context based on a standard diesel car, the savings from running on HVO would be similar to 1000 diesel cars travelling 11,300km (Dublin to Hanoi, Vietnam). This would cover 3.5 full sized football fields with a visible black dust. The NOX saving from switching to HVO (>20%) would be equivalent to a diesel car travelling 34,837km (Dublin to Ankara, Turkey). As for the Hydrocarbon savings, that would be the same as a 1000 diesel cars driving to Andorra (1,300Km).  

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