Volvo shifts to renewable fuels for ocean freight

Car brand Volvo Cars has switched to renewable fuels for ocean freight to cut fossil CO2 emissions.

Courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo said that every year tens of thousands of containers of production material destined for its factories are carried across the world’s oceans on container ships, noting that from now on, most of these seafaring journeys will be made with renewable fuel instead of traditional fossil fuel.

The car brand claimed that by switching to renewables, it will achieve an immediate reduction in fossil CO2 emissions from intercontinental ocean freight by 55,000 tons over a year.

“Thanks to renewable fuel, CO2 emissions are reduced by at least 84% compared to fossil fuel. The reduction is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of a full truck driving around the equator about 1,200 times,” Volvo noted.

The company informed that the fuel used will be fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), which is based on renewable and sustainable sources, mainly waste cooking oil, adding that no feedstock related to palm oil or palm oil production will be used.

“We will use renewable fuel for inbound ocean container transports of production material destined for manufacturing plants based in Europe and the Americas, as well as all spare parts distribution made globally by ocean container transports,” Volvo said.

Javier Varela, Volvo Cars COO and Deputy CEO, commented: “Renewable fuel is not the end game for removing CO2 from the world’s ocean freight needs. Yet this initiative shows that we can act now and implement solutions that achieve significant results during the wait for long-term technological alternatives.”

“We don’t view this initiative as a competitive advantage. On the contrary, we want to spark other car makers into action as well, to increase demand for carbon-efficient ocean transports and to establish renewable fuels as a mid-term solution that works. We all have a responsibility to act.”

To note, Volvo said it has been working on this initiative together with logistics partners Maersk, Kuehne+Nagel and DB Schenker, which have from 1 June 2023 switched to renewable fuel for equivalent energy needed for all container transports done for Volvo Cars.

“When renewable fuel is not available on a specific shipment, our renewable fuel allocation is instead used by the logistics partner for another customer’s route elsewhere, so the overall cut in fossil fuel use is kept on par with actual use in container vessels. The methodology, called mass-balancing, is third-party audited regularly. The renewable fuel itself is certified and not produced in competition with food crops. It is therefore sustainable in accordance with the EU Renewable Energy Directive,” Volvo pointed out.

It further said its ambition is to reduce the company’s lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40% between 2018 and 2025, which requires a 25% reduction in operational emissions, including logistics. It is also aiming for climate-neutral manufacturing by 2025.

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