French oil giant Total has started up production at its La Mede biorefinery, with the first two batches of biofuel coming on stream, the company said on 3 July.
The facility located in southeastern France encompassed:
· A biorefinery with an annual biofuel capacity of 500,000 tonnes.
· An 8 megawatt solar farm that can supply 13,000 people.
· A unit to produce 50,000m2/year of AdBlue, an additive that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from trucks.
· A logistics and storage hub with a capacity of 1.3M m2/year
· A training centre offering facilities and able to host 2,500 learners a year
Total said the biorefinery could produce 500,000 tonnes of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and it would produce both biodiesel and biojet fuel for the aviation industry.
The feedstock would comprise 60-70% sustainable vegetable oils (such as rapeseed, sunflower and palm oils) and 30-40% animal fat, used cooking oil and residues from waste or the pulp and paper industry.
The La Mede refinery had faced several delays and controversy over the use of imported palm oil as a feedstock.
Local farmers had expressed concern about palm oil competing with locally-produced vegetable oil and environmental activists cited the deforestation caused producing it, Reuters wrote on 29 May.
“As part of an agreement with the government in May 2018, Total has pledged to process no more than 300,000 tonnes of palm oil per year — less than 50% of the total volume of raw materials needed — and at least 50,000 tonnes of French-grown rapeseed, creating another market for domestic agriculture.” Total stated.