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Determination makes the impossible possible – a refinery on its way to carbon neutrality
We have set ourselves the goal of making Neste's Porvoo refinery the most sustainable in Europe by 2030 and achieving carbon neutral production by 2035. Carbon neutral refers to operations that produce only as much CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions as can be sequestered from the atmosphere. To achieve carbon neutral production by 2035, we will continue to prioritize and implement emission reduction measures at our production sites. Production emissions that cannot be reduced will be offset by credible methods.
Achieving carbon neutral production sounds almost impossible for an oil refinery – but at Neste we believe it is achievable, and we have already made a determined start to make it happen. We have a strong will to invest in and develop the Porvoo refinery operations in a lower-emission direction. Developing our business towards sustainability leadership requires ambition and commitment from us, as well as challenging old practices and learning new. We will only achieve our goals in cooperation with our personnel and partners.
Oil refining is one of the most energy-intensive industries. Porvoo refinery’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 2.2 MtCO2. In terms of individual plants, these are the second largest emissions in the Finnish emissions trading sector. We therefore have an important role to play in reducing emissions in Finland.
Image: Direct (Scope 1) and purchased energy related indirect (Scope 2) greenhouse gas emissions of Porvoo refining operations in 2021.
Why does the refinery generate emissions?
Many process phases in oil refining require high temperatures, and a large part of the refinery’s emissions are generated by its own heat production, which uses fuel gas generated as a by-product of refining. In addition, emissions are generated in particular in hydrogen production, which is the single largest source of emissions at the Porvoo refinery. Hydrogen is mostly needed to process heavy fractions into lighter fuels suitable for transport, for example.
More than 100 identified emission reduction measures
We have dozens of projects underway to reduce emissions and have already identified more than 100 emission reduction measures. Key short- and medium-term measures include the introduction of renewable electricity and energy-efficiency measures. In the longer term, we will focus on the introduction of new low-emission technologies and innovations such as green hydrogen, and on exploring the potential of carbon capture and utilization.
Image: Neste’s roadmap to carbon neutral production. Neste’s target is to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 2019, and reach carbon neutral production by 2035.
Since the beginning of 2022, all electricity used at the Porvoo refinery has been renewable. We use both wind power and hydropower at the refinery.
Improving the energy efficiency of the refinery plays an important role in achieving our goal. The energy efficiency of Neste’s Porvoo refinery will be improved by electrifying steam or fuel gas-fired processes and equipment and by improving energy management at different stages of the production processes, for example by optimizing the cooling and heating of flows between process units. In the process of new equipment investments, we are evaluating options according to their emissions, as new low-emission technologies also enable improved energy efficiency.
The renewable hydrogen project is progressing as planned
One of our most exciting long-term projects at the Porvoo refinery is an innovation project focusing on green hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage. The EU Innovation Fund has granted Neste EUR 88 million funding for the SHARC (Sustainable Hydrogen and Recovery of Carbon) project for green hydrogen and carbon dioxide capture and storage, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly and efficiently at the Porvoo refinery.
SHARC is a clean hydrogen project focusing on electrolysis hydrogen production and carbon capture, which reduce emissions from hydrogen production at the Porvoo refinery. With the project, about a quarter of refinery’s hydrogen production would be made low-emission, and it has the potential to achieve carbon dioxide emission reductions of more than 4 million tonnes during the first 10 years, i.e. a reduction of about 0.4 MtCO2 per year. SHARC is currently in the feasibility study phase and will be an important part of our efforts to make Porvoo the most sustainable refinery in Europe by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutral production by 2035. If implemented, the project will also make a strong contribution to achieving both Finnish and EU climate targets.
Porvoo refinery in brief
Neste’s Porvoo site is part of the Kilpilahti industrial area, the largest chemical industry concentration in the Nordic countries.
Neste’s operations in Porvoo consist of a refinery, tank area, harbour and distribution terminal. In addition to the refinery operations, Neste Engineering Solutions (technology, engineering and project management office) and Neste's main research and development facilities are also located in Porvoo.
Neste has some 2,000 employees in Porvoo, and around 1,000 of them work at the refinery.
The first units of the Porvoo refinery were commissioned in 1965.
Porvoo refinery produces clean, sulphur-free products from crude oil and Neste MY Renewable Diesel™ fuel from waste and residues, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™ and Neste RE™ raw material to replace fossil raw materials in the manufacture of polymers and chemicals.
Credits: Jori Sahlsten, Vice President, Production at the Neste Porvoo Refinery