ORLEN Group invests in southern Poland to support farmers
ORLEN Group intends to buy and use cereal straw from Polish farmers to produce second-generation bioethanol, an environmentally friendly petrol additive made from non-food products. The installation, currently under construction at the Jedlicze plant, will have a capacity to produce 25,000 tonnes of bioethanol per year. This will be sufficient to fuel almost 13 million passenger cars with petrol containing the bioethanol. Once completed, the production complex will be the first of its kind in Poland and the second in Europe. The ORLEN Group has earmarked PLN 1.12 billion for the investment in this modern bio-product, and production is expected to commence in 2025.
‘We have built a strong company that can invest in modern technologies and solutions, significantly strengthening the competitiveness of the Polish economy. In line with our updated strategy, we have the ambition to become a leader in the development of modern biofuels in Central Europe. We will achieve this goal by consistently strengthening ORLEN Group's production assets in southern Poland, including an investment in an installation to produce an environmentally friendly petrol additive, i.e., second-generation bioethanol. We will source the raw material from Polish farmers, providing new jobs and additional impetus for the region's development,’ says Daniel Obajtek, CEO and President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.
The environmentally friendly investment is being carried out at the Jedlicze plant of ORLEN Południe. The use of a modern bio-product in transport, as an additive to petrol, will contribute to the company's fulfilment of the National Indicative Target. It will also be another important step towards the ORLEN Group achieving emission neutrality by 2050, as biofuels are produced from renewable sources, thus significantly reducing CO2 emissions. The investment, which will be worth approximately PLN 1.12 billion, has received nearly PLN 68 million in co-financing from the National Fund for Environmental Protection.
The construction of the complex will enhance ORLEN Południe's position as a market leader in domestic biofuels and as a prominent employer in the region, creating around 50 new jobs at the refinery, including opportunities for advanced biotechnology specialists. The investment in bioethanol production is a testament to the ORLEN Group's commitment to developing its competencies. The ongoing development projects have placed ORLEN Południe in a stable financial position, with revenues in 2022 reaching approximately PLN 5 billion and a net profit of PLN 173 million.
ORLEN Południe's investment will deepen collaboration with farmers, unlocking the vast potential of Polish agriculture. The second-generation bioethanol, produced from agricultural residues, primarily cereal straw, distinguishes itself from first-generation biofuels. The installation's launch will generate an annual demand for approximately 150 thousand tonnes of bioethanol, equivalent to the harvest from 30 thousand hectares of fields, an area similar to Szczecin or the three Śniardwy lakes.
Bioethanol is an ethanol derived from biomass, serving as an additive to petrol and facilitating its use in transportation. The installation, to be built in Jedlicze, will be the second of its kind in Europe, with the first located in Romania.
As part of the investment in Jedlicze, ORLEN Południe is constructing a primary installation for bioethanol production, a biomass cogeneration plant, and ancillary infrastructure. The main installation, valued at around PLN 550 million, is being constructed by the Polish company Zarmen. The construction of the biomass CHP plant, valued at approximately PLN 170 million, is being undertaken by the Finnish company, Valmet Technologies Oy. The 48 MW biomass boiler will generate electricity and heat, predominantly fueled by lignin, a by-product of bioethanol production. The company will source approximately 90 thousand tonnes of lignin annually. All of the energy generated will be used to support the internal operations of the Jedlicze plant.
Currently, earthworks, construction, and assembly works are underway for the various facilities within the complex. The water treatment plant building has been completed, and advanced work is underway on the CHP plant, with the installation of the boiler already in progress for several days. The next stage will involve the assembly of the steam turbine with the generator, other auxiliary equipment, and process piping.
The subsequent phase of the investment will involve the construction of a state-of-the-art biogas plant, processing stillage, another by-product of bioethanol production, to generate renewable energy that will power the new facility. Additionally, the project includes upgrading the internal road and rail infrastructure of the plant and constructing the necessary ancillary infrastructure.
ORLEN Południe is being consistently transformed into a modern biorefinery where production is based on renewable energy sources. In November 2021, Europe's largest installation for the production of ecological glycol was launched at the Trzebinia plant. The company is also investing in a biogas programme, with a network of biomethane plants being built across the country. ORLEN Południe has also invested in a pilot plant for the production of lactic acid. In addition, the company has committed to developing hydrogen technology. As of June 2022, hydrogen fuel for refuelling buses is being supplied from the Trzebinia plant. To date, almost 2.5 tonnes of hydrogen fuel have been supplied to the Krakow MPK.
ORLEN Południe is undergoing transformation into a cutting-edge biorefinery that prioritizes the use of renewable energy sources. In November 2021, the Trzebinia plant launched Europe's largest ecological glycol unit. Moreover, ORLEN Południe is actively investing in a biogas programme, building a network of biomethane plants across the country. The company has also established a pilot plant for lactic acid production and pledged to advance hydrogen technology. In June 2022, hydrogen fuel from the Trzebinia plant began to be supplied for refuelling buses, with almost 2.5 tonnes of hydrogen fuel already supplied to the municipal transport company in Kraków.