What prompted your move towards low carbon products?
We supply some of the biggest whisky distillery groups in Scotland, who have ambitious sustainability plans. They were looking to reduce their emissions and a big part of that involves swapping out fossil fuel heating oils with low carbon alternatives. We’ve been working with them on this for the last three or four years, and they now use 100% renewable bio-oil in two of their flagship distilleries, as well as low carbon heating oil blends at other sites.
This has spurred us on to start supplying these products to other companies wanting to reduce their emissions. From there it was a natural step to also start supplying cleaner alternatives to diesel, such as HVO – hydrotreated waste vegetable oil. Our HVO performs better than diesel and provides emissions savings of 90 per cent. We’ve seen the demand for this really start to pick up, especially since the pandemic.
What’s driving this increased demand?
Much of it is being driven at the national level. We feel it’s imminent that there will soon be a real cost placed on emitting carbon in industry. Larger emitters like the whisky distilleries already have to pay for each tonne of carbon they emit through the EU (now UK) Emissions Trading Scheme, but if you look at the UK’s net zero plan there’s a very strong argument to say there has to be a price on carbon across the economy sooner rather than later. So for us, being able to offer significant emissions reduction is very much the direction we want to go in.
We’ve also noticed that demand has really picked up during the pandemic. I think there’s been a big change in the way we think as individuals – people increasingly want to do the right thing to fight climate change and have cleaner air. It just seems like we all stopped and began to think about what we were really doing.
Are you seeing increasing demand from smaller companies as well?
Absolutely. There are a lot of smaller SMEs who want to do the right thing. Using low carbon fuels as part of their environmental plan can help them to win work from the bigger companies who are looking to reduce their Scope 3 emissions and work with greener suppliers. People are even messaging me on LinkedIn in the evenings about these fuels because they’re so interested in them, which is great to see.
What effect will the net zero agenda have on your business model in the long-term?
Low carbon liquid fuels are a sensible next step in the transition to clean energy. In the long-run, industry may one day come off liquid fuels altogether and we’re thinking about that a lot now. We want to be a company that helps others to reduce their emissions, which opens up an exciting future for us. This starts with the fuels, but in future we’d like to be a position to offer other related low carbon products and services as well, particularly to SMEs who may need more help and guidance. We could have gone in the other direction by doubling down on fossil fuels, but this just feels like the right thing for us to do, and it’s what we will enjoy doing as well.
What changes have you made as a result of support from Green Economy?
On the business development side, the support has helped to gear us up for the energy transition and partner with the right people on R&D for new products and services. As a busy small business it can be hard to get a good forward look into the future, but Green Economy has given us the confidence to pump innovation into the company in a way that doesn’t take too much of our time on a day-to-day basis.
We originally developed as a wholesaler, but we wanted to start marketing directly to end users. We’ve now installed digital marketing and sales functions into the business and also put an excellent management system in place so we can grow in a controlled manner.
I’m so glad we invested the time into it because it’s all now coming to fruition.