“Austria’s first plant for the production of second-generation bioethanol is now up and running in Hallein and we have started our trailblazing cooperation with OMV. With our advanced biofuels, we are taking a responsible approach to resources and helping to reduce fossil fuel use. We will continue to pursue our long-term strategy of ‘Green AustroCel’, uniting sustainability and economic success”, said Jörg Harbring, CEO of AustroCel Hallein.
The first successful trial delivery of advanced bioethanol marks the start of the long-term cooperation between OMV, the integrated, international oil, gas and petrochemicals company headquartered in Vienna, and AustroCel Hallein GmbH. The Hallein-based bioethanol plant has an annual capacity of up to 35 million liters, making it the world’s largest bioethanol plant based on wood. In the first year AustroCel Hallein will already supply more than 1.5 million liters per month of second-generation bioethanol to OMV. With this, the cooperation partners are contributing to climate protection.
Bioethanol from Hallein will be produced exclusively from cellulose scrap, making it exceptionally environmentally friendly as no food or animal feed is used in the process. The bioethanol is extracted from the wood sugars left over in cellulose production before being fermented and distilled. This sustainable basis means that the bioethanol from AustroCel Hallein falls under the category “advanced biofuels”, allowing it to be added to gasoline fuels in the future. Substituting fossil fuels will save around 45,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. This product will thereby help reduce the carbon intensity of the OMV product portfolio and aid in meeting OMV’s 2025 Sustainability Targets.
Thomas Gangl, OMV Executive Board member responsible for Refining & Petrochemical Operations, stated “We are delighted to have found a reliable partner in AustroCel and are proud of the start of our cooperation that will allow us to secure the supply of biofuels in Austria for years to come. With the use of advanced, second-generation biofuels, OMV is making a valuable contribution to meeting international climate targets”.
AustroCel GmbH has invested around EUR 42 mn in the new bioethanol plant on its compound in Hallein and created ten new jobs. “Despite the challenges of the current situation, we have succeeded in delivering the project on time and on budget while adhering to the highest safety standards throughout. This is an incredible achievement by our team and partners. The plant is ready and entered its trial operation successfully”, reported Franz Dieterich, Head of Project Management at AustroCel. The plant will operate at full capacity in January 2021, when regular deliveries of bioethanol to OMV begin.
A number of directives regulate the use of biofuels in the EU. Several binding targets were laid out in 2009/28/EG, the EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (RED): to fulfil 20% of its total energy needs (power, heating and transport) with renewables, along with a minimum of 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources. This was followed in December 2018 by the Renewable Energy Directive II (EU 2018/2001 or RED II), which establishes a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32%, as well as a target of 14% renewables in the transport sector by 2030. A higher target for advanced biofuels (second generation) has also been determined. The target has been set at 0.2% for 2022, rising to 1% for 2025 and 3.5% by 2030. Conventional biofuels (first generation) may account for a maximum of 7%.