Netherlands to Get $1-Billion Biodiesel Plant

Netse Oil Biodiesel Refinery

image courtesy of Neste Oil

The EU and the US may be mobilizing the troops, uh, lawyers for a good old fashioned trade war over biodiesel subsidies but Neste Oil musn't be fazed. The Finland-based company announced plans today to build a $1-billion, 800,000 tonne biodiesel refinery in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Construction is to start immediately and is expected to be completed by 2011.

The new facility is the fourth for Neste, and is its second outside of Finland. Neste's first overseas facility in Singapore is currently under construction, and when completed in 2010 will have the same capacity as the Rotterdam facility.

Neste's Proprietary Fuel Blend
All of Neste's biodiesel facilities are set up to produce a proprietary fuel blend called NExBTL. Neste touts its environmental benefits in the usual fashion: 40-60% lower greenhouse gas emissions over lifecycle compared to conventional fossil diesel, reduced tailpipe emissions, and so on.

True enough, but considering that NExBTL is made from a mix of palm oil, rapeseed oil and animal fat, those lower GHG emissions may not be as low as claimed. When palm oil plantations are created out of SE Asian peatlands (primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia) and the land drained, releasing stored CO2, the lifecycle emissions of fuel made from that palm oil can be worse than fossil diesel fuel. Can Neste really get enough sustainable palm oil to enable it to run it's refineries at capacity, even if mixed with other feedstocks?

On the positive side: Neste says it has a "major" R&D; program underway so that it can use "completely non-food raw material" in its fuel by 2020. The company is currently investigation non-food vegetable oils, wood-based materials, and algae. Just like everyone else...

Question: If you're vegetarian would you use a biofuel made from animal fat? Certainly not if you're vegan, but where do you draw the line otherwise?

via :: Clean Tech
Palm Oil
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UN Says Palm Oil Industry is Wiping Out the Orang Utan
Clean Air or Clean Hair? Palm Oil In Everything
Biodiesel Subsidies
Biodiesel Dumping Accusations Could Spark US-EU Trade Row
American Taxpayers Pay in Biofuel "Splash and Dash" Scam
Food As Fuel: Collateral Damage

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