UPM's renewable diesel plant begins commercial operations

By UPM | January 12, 2015

The world’s first wood-based renewable diesel biorefinery has started commercial production in Lappeenranta, Finland. UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery is based on a hydrotreatment process developed by UPM, and produces approximately 120 million liters of renewable UPM BioVerno diesel yearly.

“Lappeenranta Biorefinery is the first significant investment in a new and innovative production facility in Finland during the ongoing transformation of the forest industry. It is also a focal part in the implementation of our company’s Biofore transformation strategy,” says Heikki Vappula, executive vice president, of UPM Biorefining.

“The production process works as planned and the high quality end product, UPM BioVerno diesel, fulfils customer specifications. The start-up phase of the biorefinery began in early autumn, and it has included customary new process and production related challenges. The biorefinery is first of its kind in the world. We are now happy to move forward from start-up phase and be able to concentrate on regular production process,” says Petri Kukkonen, dead of UPM biofuels business. 

Innovative biofuel

The UPM BioVerno diesel is produced out of crude tall oil, a residue of pulp production, in the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery. A big portion of the raw material come from UPM’s own pulp mills in Finland.

UPM BioVerno renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to traditional diesel. Based on research, high quality UPM BioVerno works with all diesel motors just as well as any regular diesel. UPM has a sales agreement with NEOT (North European Oil Trade), a wholesale organization of oil and biofuel products. 

“It is great to see how the results of technology and product development work that took many years will materialize as a commercial operation. Sustainable wood-based raw materials are turned into a unique fuel that truly decreases emissions and is suitable for all diesel cars, buses and trucks,” says Kukkonen.

Significant investment in bioeconomy   

UPM has built a €175 million ($206.68 million) biorefinery without any public investment grants. Construction of the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery started in summer 2012 and the foundation stone was laid in November of the same year. The construction employed nearly 200 people for approximately two years. The biorefinery will directly employ nearly 50 people and indirectly about 150 people.

“I want to thank the biofuels team and our partners for their co-operation both in the construction and start-up phase. The know-how of many UPMers is combined in the Lappeenranta Biorefinery, and it is a clear sign of our company’s will to take strong steps in furthering the bioeconomy,” says Vappula.