As a part of the global combat against climate change, the European Union has set a target for biofuels to represent 10 percent of road transport fuel consumption by 2020, a target supported by Neste Oil and respected mainstream environmental bodies including the WWF 1. There are many challenges in meeting this target – and those set by non-EU nations – especially the need to ensure that growth in biofuel production is ethically sourced from sustainable feedstock, audited and certified. These standards are similar to those now in use in the commercial forestry sector 2.
Neste Oil’s proprietary technology for producing NExBTL renewable diesel can potentially use a wide range of raw material feedstocks. In the near-term, vegetable oil sourced from palm oil is among the most widely and commercially available – although we are investing in R&D to explore alternative feedstocks including waste wood and non-food plant oils.
Unregulated and uncertified palm oil cultivation could carry unacceptable risks including deforestation, displacement of land for agriculture, and impacts on biodiversity. This is why Neste Oil has been determined to set the highest standards for sustainability and meet stringent requirements for auditing and certification. Based on the participation in various greenhouse gas calculation working groups 3 palm oil is estimated to have a high potential to save greenhouse gas emissions.
Neste Oil was the first oil company to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and commits fully to sustainable sourcing of feedstocks for the production of the NExBTL renewable diesel. The RSPO has over 270 members, representing all phases of production and civil society – including many NGOs with critical interests in rainforest conservation and protecting the habitat of threatened species including orangutan populations.4
Neste Oil believes that innovation and technology can help ensure that increased demand for vegetable oil does not require rain forest devastation. The current output per hectare can be doubled by improving yield through better farming techniques. Furthermore, Neste Oil is looking at ways in which disused land (idle land) can be used to produce vegetable oil. It is estimated that in Southeast Asia alone there is over 20 million hectares 5 of non-rain forest land suitable for sustainable palm oil production currently not in use.
Neste Oil’s view is that renewable diesel is part of the solution to improving fuel efficiency and reducing the detrimental environmental effects of traffic. Better fuels allow more efficient engines and lower fuel consumption. Better quality fuels, such as NExBTL diesel, also permit the reduction of exhaust gases.
1 WWF Position on Biofuels in the EU, WWF European Policy Office, July 2007
2 For example, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
3 For example the RTFO process in UK and "Criteria for Sustainable Biomass production" in the Netherlands
4 NGO members of the RSPO are: WWF (International Secretariat and Indonesian and Malaysian chapters,) Wetlands International, BOS International, PanEco, Global Environment Centre, Oxfam International, Both ENDS, Fauna Flora International, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia-Pacific, Sawitwatch
5 A study by WWF Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands: Rain Forest for Biodiesel