"The results from the demonstration plant have been promising, but no decision on the possible commercial plant has been taken. The first full-scale commercial plant will represent an investment of at least EUR 500 million. Given the fact that we plan to use the latest technology, with all the challenges that brings, it is clear that major public support would be necessary to ensure the profitability of the project," say Matti Lievonen, CEO of Neste Oil, and Jouko Karvinen, CEO of Stora Enso.
The entire production chain - from raw material, in the shape of wood biomass, all the way to biowax suitable for refining into renewable diesel - has been tested at the company's demonstration plant at Varkaus, which was commissioned in 2009. Trial runs will continue at the Varkaus facility until next year at least. Decisions on the future of the demonstration plant and the possible go-ahead for a commercial plant will be taken in the early part of next year when the relevant business plans and cost calculations have been completed.
The public environmental impact assessment (EIA) will get under way in Porvoo and Imatra in early November and will last around a year. The Southeast Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will act as the official body for the assessment. The choice of Porvoo and Imatra as possible locations for a commercial-scale plant is based on the local availability of the raw materials needed and the good logistic connections on offer. The existing plants of Neste Oil and Stora Enso at Porvoo and Imatra would among other things enable efficient year-round utilisation of heat energy generated in the biorefinery.