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Hydro and Norske Skog: joint biodiesel study

May 26, 2006, 09:00 CEST

Hydro and Norske Skog have agreed to carry out a joint feasibility study relating to the production of biodiesel from wood. The intention is to identify the feasibility of establishing a biodiesel production facility in south-east Norway. Such a plant could come on stream by 2012 at the earliest.

"We consider ourselves to be natural partners as far as wood-based biodiesel is concerned. Hydro has wide experience derived from the construction and operation of major processing plants and from the quest to find new forms of energy. Norske Skog has considerable expertise when it comes to wood purchasing and treating wood pulp," say senior vice president Alexandra Bech Gjørv of Hydro and vice president Terje Engevik of Norske Skog.

A technically superior product

The production of biodiesel is currently based on rapeseed or other oil-based raw materials. Wood-based biodiesel production requires the development of new technology. Once this technology is in place, it will be possible to offer an even better product than today’s biodiesel.

"Today only a five-percent biodiesel tank mixture is available. Wood-based biodiesel will give us a technically superior product without such limitations. By using timber we can also utilize a much greater proportion of the raw material and considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with biodiesel produced from rapeseed or other plant oils. This means that wood-based biodiesel will be a an even more environmentally friendly fuel than today’s biodiesel," the two companies say in a press release.

Long road to completion

The road to completion of a possible production plant is, however, a long one. To begin with, collaboration between the two companies involves a feasibility study that will primarily provide an overview of the technologies available in the market, identify the availability of raw materials, and create a realistic picture of the external governing conditions that must be in place in order to reach an investment decision.

"CO2 emissions represent a climate threat that affects all of us, and we can see that the political will exists to promote biodiesel as an environmentally friendly alternative to regular fuels. There is great potential for biodiesel in the market of the future, but if this market is going to materialize we are in need of a sound, long-term operating framework from the authorities," state Bech Gjørv and Engevik.