This article first appeared on Inside Construction (https://www.insideconstruction.com.au/news/features/viva-energy-fuels-the-construction-industrys-sustainability-goals/) and has been reproduced with permission.
Australian energy supplier Viva Energy is positioning itself to help support the construction industry’s transition to a more sustainable future through its range of low-carbon products and zero-emissions technologies.
Recognising the construction industry’s decarbonisation transformation is a complex and demanding endeavour, Viva Energy has established a Carbon Solutions team, headed up by carbon solutions manager Robert Cavicchiolo. The principal aim and mission of the team is to help the company’s customers on their decarbonisation journeys, supported by Viva Energy’s current and evolving mix of short, medium and long term products and solutions.
For decades the company has supplied a wide range of products and services to the sector, including fuels, lubricants, solvents, bitumen and technical advice. In alignment with the industry’s diverse needs, Cavicchiolo says delivering low and zero-emission products for its customers is a tangible next step.
“As the construction industry continues its move towards more sustainable operations, Viva Energy’s low and zero-emission solutions will play a more important role in the future,” says Cavicchiolo. “We’ve been hearing feedback in the marketplace, for several years now, that our customers are starting to really focus on their emissions reduction, so we’re developing solutions to encourage and support these goals.”
Viva Energy sees its approach to reducing carbon emissions in the industry as a stepping stone approach, says Cavicchiolo.
“Our low carbon fuel products are part of that first step, enabling construction companies to choose sustainable energy solutions to power their equipment and assets,” he adds.
Viva Energy is striving to displace the construction industry’s existing diesel use with an alternative low carbon fuel such as biodiesel and renewable diesel (HVO). These options are drop-in solutions – they don’t require major upgrades to company equipment or assets. Typically, equipment may run on these drop-in fuels with only some restrictions or, in the case of renewable diesel, with minimal to no restrictions for the owner.
The carbon footprint associated with these fuels is typically a lot lower than conventional diesel from crude oil, says Cavicchiolo.
“There’s a net benefit in terms of the greenhouse gas emissions over the lifecycle of these low carbon fuels,” he adds. “Effectively, this is enabling us and our customers to use lower carbon products, which then reduces the carbon footprint of the projects our customers are working on.”
Bringing on biofuel
Used as an alternative to conventional diesel, biofuels incorporate fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) which is typically produced from feedstocks such as tallow or used cooking oils. It’s a great short-to-medium-term solution for replacing conventional diesel in the operation of construction equipment and machinery.
“Biodiesel is a co-mingled product that has a bio sourced component, which is generally mixed at five (B5) or ten (B10) per cent in diesel,” says Cavicchiolo. “It’s a very mature product in the Australian marketplace, which has been manufactured for several years and is generally accepted by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) at certain blend rates.”
Construction companies don’t need to change equipment or fuel sources, such as tanks, other than the addition of some labelling – it’s a drop-in solution.
“Viva Energy blends FAME-based bio-diesels at our terminal gantries,” says Cavicchiolo. “Thus, from a quality assurance perspective, you know you’ve been delivered the right product that meets the recommended specifications.”
“We control the blending with well-established fuel management and quality systems that we have in place.”
Winslow Group is one company utilising Viva Energy’s FAME-based biodiesel in B5. Cavicchiolo says the civil construction firm saw it as a great option to start their journey around decarbonisation and also to address their own customers’ requirements.
Ramping up renewables
For construction companies looking for an alternative lower carbon emissions solution, Viva Energy intends to make available renewable diesel, also known as hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO). These fuels are very similar in nature to conventional diesel. The great thing about HVO, says Cavicchiolo, is that there’s little to no incompatibility issues or blend limits for equipment owners (again, owners must always check with their OEMs). “Typically, OEMs are happy to use this as a drop-in fuel solution and at higher blend rates,” he says.
There are some other side benefits of using HVO in place of diesel, such as a longer shelf life compared to conventional diesel, and it is less likely to experience microbial growth. Further, Viva Energy is planning to make HVO available in the local marketplace so that its customers can utilise it.
Viva Energy also offers its customers a range of Climate Active-certified opt-in carbon neutral products. It’s essentially a solution that’s available now, so that the customer can look at offsetting its emissions straight away, says Cavicchiolo.
With the use of opt-in products, a company doesn’t have to change its equipment, asset base, how it performs tasks in the field, or modify any of its existing practices, operations or maintenance regimes. The customer is using carbon credits which have been generated from approved carbon abatement projects to essentially cancel out or negate the emissions associated with the use of conventional diesel.
Viva Energy has certified opt-in carbon neutral products which meet the requirements of the Climate Active scheme’s Carbon Neutral Standard.
“It’s an easy solution for customers,” says Cavicchiolo. “But we do recognise that offsetting should be considered after customers have explored physically avoiding, reducing or eliminating their emissions through other practices and solutions.”
“What we find, particularly in the field, is there are not many options out there in terms of electrification and the infrastructure required to provide charging or hydrogen refuelling.
“This is when opt-in carbon neutral products may provide a viable option for customers.”
Viva Energy has placed importance on providing its customers optionality to address their emissions targets. The company can provide a solution for the customer no matter where they are on their decarbonisation journey, even those just starting out.
“There are a wide range of short-to-medium-term options – including biodiesel, HVO and opt-in carbon neutral products – and we’re really keen to help our customers start that journey now, but also help them with the longer-term options,” says Cavicchiolo. “We also have a team called New Energies within Viva Energy, which is focused on medium and longer-term solutions around electrification, hydrogen and the adoption of zero-emission technologies.”
The company is taking further initiatives to cut emissions within its own business in addition to its customers. Viva Energy is building infrastructure which will enable its refinery in Geelong to co-process lower carbon feedstocks such as used cooking oil, animal fats and synthetic crude made from waste plastics; and developing one of the first commercial hydrogen refuelling stations in Australia – the New Energies Service Station.
“The New Energies Service Station will be a commercial hydrogen truck stop located in Geelong where our customers will be able to come in and refuel their trucks with green hydrogen,” says Cavicchiolo. “As well as hydrogen, it will accommodate electric charging and also diesel refuelling to create a multi-energy hub.”
It’s not just the construction sector benefiting from Viva Energy’s solutions. The company services a diverse range of industries, from aviation, marine, mining and agriculture to defence, manufacturing and road transport, to play its role in the wider nation’s shift towards a low carbon future.
As Viva Energy continues to expand on its range of carbon reduction pathways, new opportunities arise for the construction industry, and all industries, to harness its solutions for a greener and brighter tomorrow.