$$$ from Neste, Fulcrum, others making renewable diesel a dream come true

December 15, 2018 |

There is huge news for renewable diesel right now and not just with one company or one country. It’s a global ‘wahoo’ type of ‘holy cow, is this really happening’ news. The kind of news that you have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s not just a dream.

But it’s real. By The Digest’s estimates, there’s been close to two billion dollars in investments in renewable diesel lately. And the capacity just keeps growing. Between World Energy, Zymergen, Phillips 66 and REG, Diamond Green Diesel, Fulcrum, Red Rock, Raj Renewables, Dynamic Fuels, and more, it’s really happening….More money going into renewable diesel than big timers Google or Tesla. Yep, that’s right. Go ahead and pinch yourself.

Neste’s investment in Singapore is the cherry on top. A very big $1.58 billion cherry on top. We aren’t talking about money going into R&D either…this is actual money to market. Money to make it happen. Renewable diesel is past the R&D stage, much like a 12 year old is past the Barbie or Transformers stage…well, some are.

The $1.58B investment

Neste’s been looking at the growing global market demand for low-carbon solutions in transport and cities, aviation, polymers and chemicals. Now it is acting on their research by such a major investment renewable products production capacity in Singapore.

The investment worth approximately EUR 1.4 billion (about $1.5 billion) will extend Neste’s renewable product overall capacity in Singapore by up to 1.3 million tons per annum, bringing the total renewable product capacity close to 4.5 million tons annually in 2022. The company’s target is to start up the new production line during the first half of 2022.

“Neste is in the business of helping transport and cities, aviation, polymers and chemicals customers make their business more sustainable and will continue to lead the way for renewable products. We are already a global leader in renewable products produced from waste and residues. This investment marks an important step in the execution of our profitable growth strategy globally,” says Peter Vanacker, President and CEO of Neste.

As a result of the investment, Neste will have more options to choose between different product solutions in the whole production system. In addition to producing renewable diesel, all Neste’s renewable product refineries are able to produce renewable aviation fuel and raw materials for various polymers and chemicals materials. The investment in Singapore will include additional logistics capabilities and enhanced raw material pretreatment for the use of increasingly low-quality waste and residue raw materials also for the existing refinery.

“The investment will strengthen our competitive advantages which are based on the global optimization of our production and waste and residue raw material usage. With our proprietary NEXBTL technology, renewable products can be refined flexibly from a wide variety of lower quality waste and residues while the end-products retain their high quality. We will leverage the experience gained at our existing sites in Singapore, Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Porvoo, Finland, and thanks to our continuous process and technology development, the new production line will be the best in class worldwide,” Vanacker continues.

Neste currently has a renewable products production capacity of 2.7 million tons annually. Of this total, over one million is produced in Singapore, the same amount in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the rest in Porvoo, Finland. Before the new production line in Singapore, Neste said it will continue eliminating bottlenecks in existing production, bringing the existing capacity to 3 million tons by 2020.

Not just Neste…

Fulcrum Bioenergy gave us more news to jump for joy about this week too, with their new Centerpoint BioFuels Plant planned for Gary, Indiana, which will convert municipal solid waste into low-carbon, renewable transportation fuel.

“Launching our business in Indiana is an important next step in expanding Fulcrum’s capabilities to new cities rich in innovation and opportunity,” said Jim Macias, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fulcrum. “Fulcrum’s municipal solid waste-to-fuels process will help reduce the impacts from climate change and boost the economy by producing low-carbon transportation fuel as well as bringing high-paying jobs and investment to northwest Indiana.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2020 and will take approximately 18-24 months to complete. Once operational, the Centerpoint plant will divert and process approximately 700,000 tons of waste from the Greater Chicago area. The plant will process the waste, which will be converted offsite into a prepared feedstock, and will produce approximately 33 million gallons of fuel annually.

Centerpoint will deploy Fulcrum’s proprietary process which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% when compared to conventional fossil fuels and will generate hundreds of jobs in the region, creating 160 full-time permanent jobs and 900 construction jobs.

Bottom Line

So can money buy happiness? Ask a 6-year-old opening their favorite toy on Christmas morning and the answer is probably yes. But even if it can’t buy happiness, at the very least, money can tell a story. The story we are hearing from all these investments in deployment, not demonstration or development, tells a story that this stuff is getting into the market and that is pretty exciting.

Ten years ago, we couldn’t even dream of this kind of money going into renewable diesel. Today, it’s reality. A cool, amazing reality and that is cause for celebration.

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