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Blog: We have what it takes to accelerate global transformation towards renewable and circular solutions

by Lars Peter Lindfors, Senior Vice President of Innovation at renewable fuels company Neste

At Neste, we are working on increasing the availability of renewable and recycled raw materials while also developing technologies to further diversify our current raw-material portfolio. For decades, we have been heavily engaged in research and development. While this work continues, we are currently focusing on commercializing scalable and sustainable raw materials and the technologies required for their use. Renewable hydrogen, Power-to-X, lignocellulosic waste and residues, algae, municipal solid waste and liquefied waste plastic are all viable alternatives to provide sustainable raw materials for future generations – and, already, for us.

Backed up with a track record of wide-scale business transformation and technology, Neste’s research and innovation is a key in driving our mission to create a healthier planet for our children.

Competitive and carbon-neutral green hydrogen 

Lots of work is needed on the journey towards carbon-neutral green hydrogen, with bold investments and concrete steps to be made towards commercializing new sustainable raw materials.

Right now, the solutions involving hydrogen are one of the most exciting existing and maturing technologies for driving an emission reduction revolution in heavy industries. Renewable hydrogen holds the highest energy per mass of all fuels on Earth and burns 100% emission free. It has the greatest near-term potential in existing applications in refining and other industrial processes. 

In aviation, particularly, where the range and weight limitations of batteries present challenges, green hydrogen-based sustainable aviation fuels are a significant development segment..

Improved availability, fast technological progress and declining production costs of renewable electricity – combined with supporting regulation in a growing number of countries – are major drivers in the production of renewable hydrogen. 

Our renewable hydrogen project “SHARC”, at Neste Porvoo refinery in Finland, is one example of the effort and input Neste is committed to to help usher in the transition towards more sustainable energy production. The project focuses on building production capacity of green hydrogen that will allow quick and efficient reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – a reduction of approximately four million tons of CO2 emissions at the Porvoo refinery during the first ten years of operation.

Hydrogen projects at Neste’s Porvoo refinery contribute considerably to the EU green hydrogen value chain. This was acknowledged at a high level in July 2022 when the European Commission granted Neste IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) status. Neste is the first Finnish company to have been granted the IPCEI status and SHARC is being recognized among major renewable hydrogen flagship projects EU-wide. 

Liquefied waste plastic as a new raw material source

In addition to hydrogen, Neste is taking steps towards the commercialization of many other raw materials and technologies.

An interesting example is liquefied waste plastic. Liquefied waste plastic provides us an opportunity to replace fossil-based raw materials with more sustainable alternatives in our oil refining. This supports global efforts to reduce plastic waste and reduce crude oil dependency in the production of new plastics.

We have already successfully completed our first series of industrial-scale processing runs of  liquefied waste plastic at the Porvoo refinery. Furthermore, we are currently conducting a feasibility study to examine further investments into building chemical recycling capacities and scaling up processing capabilities, as well as integrating new technologies into the refinery operations. 

The project PULSE (“Pre-treatment and Upgrading of Liquefied Waste Plastic to Scale Up Circular Economy”) was approved for a grant of up to €135 million from the EU Innovation Fund in July 2022. In this project, we combine Neste´s long refining experience with expertise in upgrading low-quality raw materials, which provides a solid foundation for the rapid demonstration and scaling up of chemical recycling.

There is no simple solution to climate change – numerous solutions are needed

In order to combat climate change, we need various breakthrough innovations and a clear focus on research and technology development. Along with the vision, we need versatility and tight, large-scale cooperation across industries and governments.

The data shows clearly that all solutions to reduce emissions should be embraced and the use of a full toolbox of raw material options enabled, rather than trying to predict and pick out single technological silver bullets. Renewable hydrogen and chemical recycling of waste plastic, along with renewable liquid fuels and electrification, are each important pieces of the puzzle on which a sustainable future is built. 

We at Neste are working on transforming our ambitions into actions. Accelerating the use of existing solutions combined with rapid development of new ones is the key.

Lars Peter Lindfors is a Senior Vice President of Innovation at Neste and he has been a member of the Neste Executive Committee since 2009.

Neste creates solutions for combating climate change and accelerating a shift to a circular economy. The company refines waste, residues and innovative raw materials into renewable fuels and sustainable feedstock for plastics and other materials.

Neste is a partner of the Millennium Technology Prize. Lars Peter Lindfors will be participating in the session on Green Transition 26 October at Millennium Innovation Forum.

Partners of the Millennium Technology Prize