Making the switch: Shell GTL case study

Red Diesel Fleet

As part of Certas Energy, the UK’s most trusted fuel supplier, we’re proud to provide more environmentally friendly business energy alternatives.

One such example of these initiatives in action is our Shell GTL fuel, which helped two UK-based farms get back up and running. With more than 2,000 hectares of land between them, the Home Farm and FS Watts & Sons sites rely on 50,000 litres of fuel per week to run their agricultural machinery.

Among their fleet of vehicles using red diesel were:

Claas Lexion 770 combine harvester

John Deere tractors

JCB teleporters

While both farms were using red diesel, they soon ran into problems owing to changing legislation.

Changes to the law

Not only do UK farmers now face lower tax rebates on red diesel; they’re also contending with Renewable Transport Fuel Guidance (RFTO). Under these government guidelines, agricultural fuels must now contain higher levels of renewable alternatives, such as biofuels.

In order to burn this red diesel biofuel more efficiently, Scottish farmers are blending it with fatty acid methyl ester (FAME). This helps to get us closer to our net-zero targets, but it leaves farmers facing other problems.

Fuels containing FAME absorb moisture and retain it more easily than other fuels. This leaves it liable to contamination, which in turn leads to diesel bug, fuel separation or waxing.

These problems can all be made worse by long-term storage, though this is an issue in itself. As FAME fuels contain biodegradable materials, they break down quickly – leading to gum formation, filter blockages and damaged machinery.

Problems caused by FAME fuels

FS Watts and Sons soon began to suffer changes to their machinery, caused by the abovementioned problems. In particular, machinery would cut out after 150 hours, and there was a noticeable build-up of sludge in tractor filters.

This led to increased downtime and breakdowns out in the fields, or sometimes, on the road. Both farms suffered from reduced productivity, caused by more frequent filter changes and engine shutdowns. Likewise, the farms would lose out when stored fuel became spoiled earlier than before.

The Scottish Fuels solution

Our umbrella brand Certas Energy suggested both farms switch to our FAME-free diesel alternative: Shell GTL. This fuel offers many benefits for agricultural users including:

Up to five years shelf life

-20°C plugging point

Zero bio content

Reduced nitrogen oxides and particulate matter

As well as improving local air quality, GTL can be added to existing agricultural machinery without the need for any vehicular modifications. Likewise, farmers can store it in bulk tanks and mix it with red diesel for a cleaner fuel.

In both cases, the farms reported an end to their fuel blockages, and had this to say about our service:

“We’ve definitely noticed the difference from running our machinery on Shell GTL Fuel. It’s cleaner burning, it lasts longer in storage and – most importantly – we’ve not had to change any of our filters since using it.

“It may be a premium product, but when you factor in the downtime, maintenance and filters replacements we were having to deal with because of the problems with red diesel, making the change has been well worth it.”

Ready to make the switch to more efficient fuels?

Stay compliant with current legislation without impacting your agricultural machinery. Contact Scottish Fuels today.

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