ORLEN Południe, an ORLEN Group company, has brought on stream Poland’s first and Europe’s largest green propylene glycol production unit and begun construction of a UCO FAME plant at its biorefinery in Trzebinia.
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Green glycol is a high-margin biobased product that is clean and environmentally safe. It is used for a wide range of applications, including in medicine, cosmetics, and the food industry.
It can also be used in aviation as an anti-icing and de-icing agent for aircraft. ORLEN Południe will produce 30 000 tonnes of green glycol per annum, which according to the company 10 000 tonnes more than Europe’s only unit of this type located in Belgium.
We think ahead. We have launched a state-of-the-art unit to make green glycol in Trzebinia as demand for this bio-based product is constantly growing in Europe and around the world, said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN S.A (PKN ORLEN) Management Board.
Sourced from biodiesel
Glycerine obtained at the Trzebinia plant as a by-product of biodiesel production will be used to make eco-friendly glycol, which will be sold to customers in Poland and abroad.
The project will also benefit other Polish biodiesel producers, from whom the company will source glycerine. The new project will strengthen ORLEN Południe’s position both as a player in the Polish bio-components market and an employer in the region.
The glycol unit has created several dozen jobs. Today the company has a workforce of over 670, with more than half of them employed at the Trzebinia refinery.
Construction on the green glycol project was launched in the autumn of 2019 and it was completed on schedule by a consortium formed by two Polish companies: Technik Polska and Biproraf.
An integral part of the glycol complex is Poland’s first hydrogen hub with an annual output of 16 Nm3, of which 75 percent will be used for glycol production and the remaining 25 percent will be further purified into hydrogen fuel.
Poland will be the leader in glycol production in Europe. At the same time, we are bringing on stream Poland’s first hydrogen hub, which forms part of the glycol complex, said Daniel Obajtek.
The hub will have an annual production capacity of 350 tonnes of pure automotive-grade hydrogen. The hydrogen fuel made in Trzebinia will ultimately power public transport vehicles in Kraków and the Upper Silesian agglomeration.
To that end, the Group has signed Letters of Intent (LoI) with Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne of Kraków, Krakowski Holding Komunalny, and the Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin.
In the future, ORLEN Południe will also operate a mobile hydrogen refueling station.
Construction start for a new UCOME plant
As part of the transition of Trzebinia into a state-of-the-art biorefinery, ORLEN Południe has also signed a contract for the construction of a used cooking oil fatty acid methyl ester (UCO FAME) plant.
The announcement comes on the heels of a decision to invest approximately PKN 600 million (≈ EUR 129.5 million) to implement a “modern technology for making hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO)” at its Płock Refinery.
We are committed to developing our business in a sustainable way, recognizing the growing importance of the latest technologies in building competitive advantage. The UCO FAME plant will increase the supply of alternative second-generation bio-components, with a benefit to the natural environment, said Daniel Obajtek.
The plant will convert used cooking oils (UCO) and animal fats into 30 000 tonnes of second-generation esters and 7 000 tonnes of technical grade glycerine annually, the latter of which will be used in Trzebinia for the production of green propylene glycol.
This innovative solution will allow us to expand our portfolio by adding another environmentally friendly product to ORLEN Południe while continuing to develop advanced know-how in biotechnology. Importantly, the project is also in line with the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive II, which promotes the processing and reuse of waste products, Daniel Obajtek said.
The project will contribute to reducing carbon emissions in line with the National Reduction Target and also supports the achievement of the National Indicative Target, which caps the share of first-generation bio-components in biofuel production.
Construction of the UCO FAME plant will begin in November 2021 and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2023.
The general contractor of the project is the Polish engineering company AB Industry.
Strong financial footing
The strategic capital biorefinery projects implemented in Trzebinia are underpinned by ORLEN Południe’s firm and stable financial footing.
The green glycol project required some PLN 400 million (≈ EUR 87.3 million) in capital and is anticipated to add over PLN 50 million (≈ EUR 10.9 million to the Group’s annual EBITDA, while the UCO FAME plant is anticipated to require some PLN 127.5 million (≈ EUR 27.8 million).
In the first nine months of 2021 alone, the company posted revenue of ca. PLN 2.4 billion (≈ EUR 523.56 million), almost PLN 200 million (≈ EUR 43.6 million) more than in the entire of 2019, and over PLN 500 million (≈ EUR 109 million) more than in the pandemic year of 2020.
ORLEN Południe has also delivered a record net profit for the first three quarters of the year, of PLN 108 million (≈ EUR 23.6 million).
The completed projects will stimulate the fast growth of the ORLEN Group in strategic areas while significantly strengthening the competitive advantage of the Polish economy. For ORLEN Południe, the projects are another milestone in the process of transforming the company into a state-of-the-art biorefinery and consolidating its position as a major business organization and employer in the region, ended Daniel Obajtek.