5th Etanolix project debuts, and first outside of Finland; waste makes haste.
In Sweden, St1 Biofuels Oy delivered its first Etanolix plant to North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB) in Gothenburg, which recycles feedstocks such as biowaste and process residue from local bakeries and bread from shops that is past its sell-by date into ethanol for transport fuel. The ethanol plant is fully integrated into the functions and logistics of St1 oil refinery in Gothenburg and has an annual production capacity of 5 million litres of advanced bioethanol. The refinery staff will operate the Etanolix plant.
The Finnish energy company St1 is a pioneer in waste-based ethanol production and production technologies. In Finland, there are already four Etanolix plants and one Bionolix plant that produces ethanol from biowaste from shops and households. The first Cellunolix plant using sawdust as a feedstock, will begin production in Kajaani, Finland next year.
The St1 backstory
St1 have production plants running since 2007 producing bio-ethanol. The raw material consists e.g. of industrial waste streams such as bread and sweets. Today four Etanolix plants are in operation, and produce a so-called second generation ethanol for blending into gasoline and E85 (in Finland called RE85). Climate impact compared with fossil products, is very small, ie reduction of fossil CO2 is high (> 90%).
The Finnish investor of the new Gothenburg ethanol plant, NEB, is an associated company of SOK Corporation and energy company St1 whose purpose is to invest in biofuel production units. The production capacity of the plant will be leased to North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT). NEOT is sister company to NEB and it is the most significant independent fuel supply company in the Baltic Sea region. It delivers fuels to major Nordic service station chains – ABC, St1 and Shell – with a total of 1,500 service stations in Finland, Sweden and Norway.
“Building the ethanol plant in Gothenburg is a significant launch on the international market for us. Our scalable Etanolix concept is a finished export product. Ethanol produced using our technology generates virtually no lifecycle fossil emissions,” says Patrick Pitkänen, Head of Business Development and Sales at St1 Biofuels.
The Gothenburg plant is the first biofuel production plant for NEOT, which is an oil and biofuel wholesale trading company. “By investing in biofuel production of our own, we are strengthening our sourcing of biofuels and supporting our strategy of fulfilling growing biofuels mandate,” says Henrikki Talvitie, Managing Director of NEOT.
The Gothenburg project was selected for inclusion in the Life+ programme of the European Commission, which provides funding for projects for instance on energy, the climate, environmental management, industry and production, waste management and environmental policy. This project is the first in which an ethanol production plant has been integrated at an existing oil refinery to produce waste- and residue-based ethanol on a sustainable basis.
The project backstory
In May 2014, we reported that St1 Biofuels Oy would deliver an Etanolix® plant producing waste-based bioethanol to North European Oil Trade Oy in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the time, we noted that the Etanolix plant “will produce ethanol for transport fuel, using feedstocks such as biowaste and process residue from local bakeries and bread from shops that is past its sell-by date. The plant currently under construction at the St1 refinery in Gothenburg will have an annual production capacity of 5 million liters of bioethanol. The refinery will operate the Etanolix plant, which will be fully integrated into the refinery functions and logistics.
The next project
In August 2014, we reported that North European Bio Tech had made an investment decision concerning the construction of a bioethanol plant on the Renforsin Ranta industrial estate in Kajaani. The raw material for the plant will be sawdust from local sources. The plant was projected to begin production in mid-2016. The production capacity of the plant, 10 million litres of bioethanol per year, will be leased to North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT), which engages in oil and bioproduct wholesale trade.
In August, we added that the government would cover 30% of the cost to build the St1 Biofuels sawdust-to-ethanol plant planned for Kajaani. The support of EUR12 million will help fuel up to 5,000 vehicles per year with production of 10 million liters annually.
The overall strategy and the EU directives
In 2013, we noted that the overall St1 strategy is to build a network of plants with a total of 300 million liters (79 million gallons) in capacity by the 2020s. For the near-term, St. 1 was targeting three to five cellulosic biofuels locations, to complement five already-completed projects that use food-industry residues and biowaste.
The project uses about one-third of the energy value in lignin to provide process heat and power for the project; the remainder isused by a local utility, presumably in place of coal, which is imported currently into Finland.
“EU Commission’s proposal to amend the Renewable Energy Directive, which limits food-based biofuel production plants,” said St 1 CEO Mika Aho, “is [stimulating projects like the] Kajaani mill building. The EU proposal places great emphasis on the use of wastes and residues as raw materials for biofuels, and our forest industry offers significant domestic raw material potential for sustainable bio-ethanol production. Finnish negotiators and lobbyists will have to be awake to the opportunities created by the reform of the Directive can be exploited and the pitfalls avoided.”