PKN ORLEN and ORLEN Południe have signed an agreement providing for the construction of an advanced industrial unit that would produce second-generation bioethanol and describing the methods in which the project would be financed. Located at the Jedlicze refinery, the project would be the first of its kind in Poland and the second one in Europe. The unit would be capable of producing 25 thousand tonnes of bioethanol per year. The project is aligned with the ORLEN Group’s strategic objective to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It would also strengthen Poland’s position on the European market for new generation biofuels.

Bioethanol (or ethyl alcohol) is derived from agricultural biomass. As an additive to gasoline, it can be applied in the transport sector. The bioethanol unit in Jedlicze would be the second of its kind in Europe. The first such plant was built in Romania.

“As envisaged by the ORLEN2030 strategy, we are strengthening our position as a regional leader in new generation biofuels. The planned construction of a 2G bioethanol unit would be another investment in environmentally friendly technologies designed to reduce carbon emissions. Once brought on stream, the project would also meaningfully contribute to the fulfilment by PKN ORLEN of the biofuel quota, which has been incrementally lifted. It would also create new jobs and help fully exploit the potential of agriculture in south-eastern Poland, while delivering measurable benefits to the Polish economy and the region,” says Daniel Obajtek, President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.

Bioethanol at the Jedlicze refinery would be produced from non-food agricultural feedstocks (predominantly cereal straw) sourced mainly from Polish farmers. The result would be fuller utilisation of the potential of local agriculture. The bioethanol complex would comprise the main unit and an advanced CHP plant based on a lignin-fired biomass boiler. Lignin burned at the CHP plant would be a waste product of the bioethanol unit, whose annual output would amount to some 90 thousand tonnes. The lignin would be burned in a 48 MW fluidised bed boiler, with all heat generated in the process to be used for the needs of facilities making up the 2G bioethanol complex.

The project would also increase the use of ORLEN Południe’s land in Jedlicze for the purposes of industrial development. Additionally, it would create jobs, with about 50 new positions offered at the refinery, for specialists in advanced biotechnologies and other staff.

On the basis of this project, ORLEN Południe would also undertake further research and development work, related, among other things, to further biological processing of its co-products, such as lignin and dried distillers grains with solubles. The company also intends to expand its feedstock base by utilising waste products and energy crops, such as Miscanthus.

The construction of the 2G bioethanol unit would mark another stepping stone in the envisaged transformation of ORLEN Południe plants into advanced biorefineries running on renewable feedstocks. In November last year, the Trzebinia refinery saw the launch of Europe’s largest green glycol unit. The company is also investing in its biogas programme to develop a network of biomethane plants across the country.

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