Total to invest over EUR 500m in solar-powered biorefinery project
Source: Total Quadran
French energy major Total SA (EPA:FP) plans to invest over EUR 500 million (USD 582.5m) to convert a refinery in Seine-et-Marne department into a solar-powered, zero-crude platform that produces renewable diesel and bioplastics.
Total intends to discontinue crude oil refining at the Grandpuits refinery in the first three months of 2021 and end storage of petroleum products there in late 2023. Once the planned conversion project is completed by 2024, the new platform will be engaged in the production of renewable diesel for use in the aviation industry and plastics recycling.
The new biorefinery will have the capacity to process 400,000 tonnes per year, with potential annual production of 170,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel, 120,000 tonnes of renewable diesel and 50,000 tonnes of renewable naphtha, used to produce bioplastics. It will process primarily animal fats from Europe and used cooking oil, supplemented with other vegetable oils.
At the same time, a 50/50 joint venture between Total and Corbion NV (AMS:CRBN) will build Europe’s first plant to produce PLA, a biodegradable and recyclable bioplastic that is entirely produced from sugar. The facility is expected to have an annual production capacity of 100,000 tonnes once it begins operations in 2024.
The project site will also accommodate France’s first chemical recycling plant, to be established by a 60/40 JV between Total and Plastic Energy. It will rely on a pyrolysis melting process to convert plastic wastes into a liquid called TACOIL, which will then be used as feedstock for the production of polymers with identical properties to virgin polymers.
Meanwhile, wholly-owned unit Total Quadran will build two solar power plants -- one with a capacity of 28 MWp at the Grandpuits site and one of 24 MWp at the associated Gargenville depot.
Total, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050, has calculated it will be cheaper to undertake this industrial transformation of the site than replacing an existing crude oil pipeline linked to Grandpuits where a leak appeared in 2019, forcing the refinery to close for more than five months. The group expects to implement the project without lay-offs, with early retirements and internal mobility within its sites.