Logistics & transportation
Logistics & transportation 4 min. reading time

What are Renewable Fuel Units and how can you make money from them as a transportation company?

With Renewable Fuel Units, you earn money while charging your electric (freight) cars with electricity. We explain exactly how that works.


What is an HBE or Renewable Fuel Unit?

HBE stands for Renewable Fuel Unit. An HBE is a certificate you get that proves you have delivered bio-fuels or electricity to transportation. 

The ultimate goal of HBEs is to reduce CO2 emissions. Transportation companies must demonstrate from the European Commission that they are using less fossil fuels and more renewable fuels. By 2030, 28% of all fuel supplied must be renewable energy. This year (2024) it is 19.9%. 

202220232024202520262027202820292030
Total HBE17,9%18,9%19,9%21,0%22,3%23,6%25,0%26,5%28,0%

An HBE certificate is proof, which shows that you comply with European legislation. Each member state fills in how they comply with this legislation, so HBEs are only valid in the Netherlands. An HBE certificate only becomes official once it has been entered into the Dutch Emissions Authority's Energy for Transport Register (REV).

"Did you know that you receive one HBE when you load277 kWh of
power from the grid into an electric truck? Are you charging from your own solar installation and therefore fully renewable? Then you even receive one HBE for every 70 kWh."
Faris Musakadic, Business Developer | Novar

Trading HBEs. 

You can buy and sell a Renewable Fuel Unit in addition to receiving it yourself. Companies that produce a lot of fossil fuels - including Shell, Esso or BP - buy HBEs to make their records more sustainable. They, too, must comply with European legislation.

These companies use a lot of fossil fuels and less renewable fuels themselves, so they purchase HBEs from other companies. The percentage of mandatory HBEs is growing every year. As a result, the demand for HBEs is increasing. 

In addition to companies with a deficit, there are also companies that produce more HBEs than the EU requires. You can start selling these extra HBEs (note: this is not mandatory). Supply is thus created. To sell HBEs you need to keep accounts. You sell the HBEs, for example, to the aforementioned companies Shell, Esso or BP. In effect, these companies help pay for the sustainable charging of your transport. This creates a market from which you as a transport company can make smart money.

Trade HBEs yourself? Here are the terms and conditions: 
  • You have a company registered with the Chamber of Commerce that supplies electricity to road vehicles or barges.
  • You own the main connection to the location where charging occurs.
  • You deliver and sell enough energy from your load square. In fact, trading HBEs only becomes interesting at a certain supply size.

When are HBEs financially interesting? 

HBEs are interesting if you have your own charging station with at least 15,000 kWh of supply of electricity to vehicles. This number of kWh applies, if you combine supply with your own generation. 

Don't generate your own renewable energy? Then HBEs become interesting if you have your own charging plaza and charging station that supply at least 60,000 kWh per year. Not only supply to your own electric trucks counts, also delivered electricity to other electric trucks is allowed.

If you do not generate your own renewable energy, HBEs can still be interesting. Because 'ordinary' grid electricity already contains a percentage of renewable energy, you can also obtain HBEs in this way. The percentage of renewable energy in grid electricity is set at 39.9% in 2024.  

There is a big difference between the profit you can make from energy supplied from the grid and from your own assets. Investing in your own renewable energy generation, for example with solar panels on your roof, can pay off handsomely.

Here's how you can make money with HBE certificates

Every situation is different. One transportation company has only one electric truck and uses electricity from grid power. While the other transportation company drives around with two electric trucks and generates its own energy, such as with solar panels. 

We compare these example situations in the calculation model below:

Example 1

Average consumption* per year in kWh: 25,000 kWh

Required supply from grid power for one HBE: 277 kWh

Yield per kWh: €0.045**

Average profit per year in Example 1:

25,000 kWh* €0.045 = €1,125. 

Example 2

Average consumption* per year in kWh: 50,000 kWh 

Required supply from own generation for one HBE: 70 kWh

Yield per kWh: €0.17

Average profit per year in Example 2:

50,000 kWh* €0.17 = €8,500 (per truck €4,250)

*based on the average number of miles a truck travels each year and the electricity needed for those miles
**we are assuming an average selling price of HBEs of €12.35

As you can see in the calculation example, the HBE advantage of self-generated energy ticks up considerably faster. The calculation examples also include the sale of HBEs. On average, an HBE earned between 10 and 15 euros last year. Looking at the most optimal scenario, the sale of HBEs can yield as much as €12,000 per year. If you do not generate your own energy, even then there is profit to be made. In this scenario, you will then earn about €4,000.

Doesn't trading HBEs cost more than they generate?

It's smart to do a calculation beforehand, to see if trading HBEs pays off for you. Because to make a profit on your HBEs, you need to charge vehicles with a certain kWh of electricity. Specifically, in most cases this means two electric trucks of your own. There are also costs involved, such as an annual mandatory audit to verify that your HBE records are correct.

Getting smart with HBEs

Want to take maximum advantage of HBEs? Then consider creating your own sustainable assets. This can generate considerably more profit. Because an investment in your own green energy system can be quite substantial, Novar can support you in this.

Novar provides the assets, such as solar panels, a charging station or a battery, which you, the owner, can lease. We make the investment, you then benefit from the HBEs and the sustainable appearance of green energy. That way you keep money for an additional electric truck, for example. 

We work with you to lay the groundwork for a smart charging infrastructure for your electric trucks, charging your transport as much as possible with locally generated solar energy. In addition to a smart infrastructure, we can also help you with your own green energy system, so that you have insight into generation and consumption.

Furthermore, we can relieve you of worries about applying for subsidies, audits and installing the right meters (MID meters). You make sure you stay ahead in making your fleet sustainable, we do the rest. 

Wondering what HBEs can provide for your specific situation? Then use our calculation tool. This way you can see immediately whether HBEs are interesting for your company.

This is what you earn from trading HBEs

Do you now have only 1 electric truck and charge it with grid power? In a while you might be driving 3 electric trucks that you charge with your own solar panels. Therefore, always calculate multiple situations.

Faris Muskadic

Faris Musakadic Business Developer

What you earn with HBEs depends on your situation. Because you are constantly responding to developments, you want to calculate not only your current situation, but also that of the future. That's why it's smart to do this a few times.

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