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Plans announced for 50 million litre per annum cellulosic ethanol plant in Finland

North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB) has announced plans for 50 million litre per annum "Cellunolix" bioethanol plant in Pietarsaari, Finland. Acting on behalf NEB, Finland-headed waste-based ethanol producer and technology provider St1 has begun the analysis and signed Letters of Intent (LoI) with energy utility Alholmens Kraft and forest industry major UPM for a sawdust-based ethanol plant in the Alholma industrial area in Pietarsaari.

According to a statement the Cellunolix plant, which would use sawdust and recycled wood as feedstock, is planned for UPM’s Alholma industrial area. Alholmens Kraft and UPM would provide the project with the mill site’s services and commodities and where possible, would utilise the by-products of the ethanol production in their own processes. NEB is an St1 and SOK joint venture company.

In order for the investments to be implemented and the project to proceed, an environmental impact assessment procedure (EIAP) and an approved environmental permit will be required. Likewise, the profitability and operational experience of the NEB’s soon to start Cellunolix plant in Kajaani, Finland will affect investment decisions – as will the development of legislation concerning the construction and use of biofuel plants. The project is estimated to be in the investment decision stage in 2018, and the Cellunolix plant manufacturing bioethanol for transport purposes could start up in 2020.

According to preliminary plans, NEB would invest in a plant utilising sawdust as feedstock. St1 Biofuels Oy will plan and deliver the plant, coordinate the project and, as the operator, carry out production. The production capacity of the plant would be leased to North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT), an associated company of SOK and St1.

Expansion plans in Kajaani

In Finland, St1 has already four Etanolix plants using waste from the food industry and one Bionolix plant using biowaste from shops and households as feedstock for ethanol production. In addition, St1 Biofuels has delivered to NEB an Etanolix plant for the St1 refinery in Gothenburg, Sweden and signed an LoI for a Cellunolix plant in Norway.

St1 is currently commissioning a 10 million litre per annum Cellunolix plant that it delivered to NEB in Kajaani. The plant, which manufactures advanced ethanol from sawdust, will reach full production speed during 2017. Along with the LoI concerning Pietarsaari, NEB will look into expanding the Kajaani plant. According to the statement one option being considered is the construction of a new 50 million litre per annum Cellunolix bioethanol plant in Kajaani. The assessment of the environmental impacts will be completed at the beginning of 2017. An environmental permit will be sought for the plant before the investment decision is made.

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