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BTG and GoodFuels to invest in marine biodiesel production facility

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Dutch technology group BTG and sustainable marine fuel producer GoodFuels have teamed up to invest in a new biorefinery to support the demand for low carbon shipping fuels.

BTG plans to establish a new technology company, to be called BTG-neXt, which will convert crude pyrolysis oil into biodiesel fuel suitable for use in the shipping sector. Both companies will invest in the construction of a biorefinery, which is expected to be the first in the world for an advance marine biofuel based on pyrolysis oil.

Under the partnership, BTG-neXt will initially focus on building a pilot refinery to convert pyrolysis oil into 100% sustainable marine biodiesel, to demonstrate that continuous production is feasible. Pyrolysis oil is made from biomass-based residues, such as sawdust and roadside grass cuttings, and is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

The new demonstration facility has a planned production capacity of just 1,000 tonnes per year, with plans to scale up if successful. The companies hope this facility will support the industry in meeting targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, equivalent to an 85% reduction per vessel.

“This initial capacity is sufficient to demonstrate that the technology works and will serve as a basis for further scaling up our operations,” said Rene Venendaal, CEO of BTG. The pilot is expected to require a six-figure investment, according to Venendaal: “We are now working on a more precise estimate of that figure.”

BTG and GoodFuels plans to use the pre-commercial facility as a reference for rolling out commercial refineries with a capacity of potentially hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year of marine biodiesel.

Partnership with GoodFuels

BTG’s plans for the biorefinery have been welcomed by GoodFuels, which sees sufficient potential in the project to explore the possibility of a collective investment in the demonstration plant.

“Over the last five years, GoodFuels has laid out a clear pathway for the use of biofuels in the shipping sector,” commented Dirk Kronemijer, CEO of GoodFuels. “Together with partners such as Boskalis Loodswezen, Port of Rotterdam, Norden, Jan de Nul and its portfolio of GoodShipping A-Brand clients we have shown that these fuels will play an essential role in making shipping more sustainable.

“Crucially, the next step is to scale up the processes without making any concessions in terms of the sustainability of the feedstocks used. BTG’s initiative meets all the success criteria, and we are very proud to work together with BTG to introduce this highly significant innovative technology in the Netherlands.”

GoodFuels also intends to market the fuel produced by the pilot plant to further strengthen the commercial business case for scaling up the facility.

Venendaal added: “At present, most ships, in particular seagoing vessels, use low-quality fuel oil that is almost tar-like in nature, or marine gasoil, or diesel oil, all containing high levels of carbon. The potential for growth in terms of sustainability – driven by the IMO’s greenhouse gas targets for 2030 and 2050 – is therefore extremely high for this sector.”

BTG is considering the ports of Rotterdam and Eemshaven in the Netherlands as locations for the first commercial processing plant. “Rotterdam would be our preferred location as most of our shipping clients are active here,” noted Kronemeijer. “In addition, Rotterdam offers a great many opportunities for further integration due to the significant existing infrastructure already in place there.”