New study: sufficient supply of Crude Tall Oil for advanced biofuels, biomaterials and energy usage

Industry and forest

There is a new study from leading international energy and climate consultancy Ecofys – A Navigant Company, entitled “Crude tall oil low ILUC risk assessment: comparing global supply and demand”, which was commissioned by Finnish UPM Biofuels. The study looked into crude tall oil (CTO) availability, current usage, whether the feedstock creates an additional demand for land, and whether the use of CTO in advanced biofuels can cause distortive effects in the markets. The CTO is a viscous yellow-black odorous liquid obtained as a by-product of the Kraft process of wood pulp manufacture when pulping mainly coniferous trees.

The conducted Ecofys study concludes that “the CTO market is not overly tight and potential surplus of about 850,000 tonnes of CTO is still available that could be tapped into”. The total potential CTO supply is around 2.6 million tonnes. Current actual CTO demand is approximately 1.75 million tonnes, of which about 1.4 million tonnes is used by distillers and roughly 230,000 tonnes for biofuels. Ecofys also concludes that “CTO use for biofuels did not cause displacement effects elsewhere, and hence CTO, a non-land using process residue, is a low ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) risk material.”

UPM considered it necessary to investigate the impact of UPM Biofuels’ market entry, and to verify whether UPM BioVerno production may have impacted negatively on the CTO market. The study brings necessary information into the debate concerning raw material availability for various end-uses such as advanced biofuels and biomaterials.

Current debate relating to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive puts raw material availability of feedstock into focus as most materials tend to have alternative usage. “It is important to UPM that we can showcase that our entry into the markets has had limited impacts on the overall market, while it has enabled UPM to become the key producer of wood-based biofuels and products for the biochemical industry. We believe there is tremendous innovation potential in advanced biofuels,” says Marko Janhunen, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations from UPM Biorefining, and new President of LSB, Leaders of Sustainable Biofuels.

This research was a follow-up to an earlier study from 2013 that looked into the same issues but this was before UPM began production of renewable diesel from CTO. In 2013, the study concluded that “sufficient quantities of CTO are available for biodiesel production without the risk to cause Indirect Land Use Change and that CTO should be regarded as residue”.

The new Ecofys study proved that the assumptions made in the earlier report were correct and UPM has created a new value chain parallel to existing ones.

“UPM entered the advanced biofuels business in 2015 and became the world’s first producer of renewable diesel on a commercial scale from wood by tapping into our own pulp mill residue, Crude Tall Oil. Our entry has been a success, and we continue to investigate new technologies and feedstock,” Janhunen concludes.

UPM Biofuels is the only biofuel producer that has, in addition to national certification, received both RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) and ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) certifications. This is very strong proof of the sustainability of all UPM Biofuels operations.



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