Marine biofuel plant planned for development in Denmark

By Erin Voegele | September 10, 2013

The Denmark-based Port of Frederikshavn, Canadian biofuel company Steeper Energy, and Denmark-based Aalborg University have announced a partnership to develop a biofuel plant in Denmark that will produce sulphur-free, drop-in marine fuel from wood feedstock.

According to information released by the group, the project in an early planning stage. The main focus is currently to establish a well-founded business case and feasibility study for the project. The next stage of development will include seeking investors and partners for the engineering phase.

A press release published by Steeper Energy specifies that the proposed project is currently expected to produce between 50,000 and 100,000 tons of fuel per year. Roughly two to three times as much wood is expected to be sourced from locations in Russia, the Baltic nations, Sweden, Finland or Canada. According to the group, long-term research efforts will focus on incorporating locally available feedstocks, such as short rotation coppice, manure and straw. That work will be carried out at Aalborg University.

Mikkel Seedorf Sorensen, CEO of the Port of Frederikshavn, said the location could potentially serve a marine fuel market of 900,000 tons per year. “Some 100,000 vessels annually pass the strait around Skagen either south- or northbound, and several of these will seize the opportunity to acquire sulphur-free fuel here,” he said.

According to information published by the group, this project will help meet demand for sulphur-free fuels created by a new regulation that will reduce the permissible sulphur content of marine fuel to zero starting on Jan. 1, 2015. The regulation applies in Sulphur Emission Control Areas, which includes regions in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Fleet operators in those regions will either need to install flue gas cleaning equipment on their ships, or switch to sulphur-free fuel.

Steeper Energy and Aalborg University opened a bench-scale hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) facility in Denmark in late May. According to information published by Steeper Energy, the technology can create synthetic oil from biomass, peat or lignite coal feedstocks. A pilot-scale plant that is 30 times larger is planned for Alberta in early 2014. Steeper Energy has estimated that a commercial-demonstration plant could be under construction by 2016.