China biofuel makers bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Source: By Chen Aizhu, Reuters • Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2024

SINGAPORE, May 17 (Reuters) – Biofuel firms are pouring more than $1 billion into building China’s first plants to turn waste cooking oil into aviation fuel for export and meet domestic demand, once Beijing mandates the fuel’s use on airplanes to cut emissions.

Here are details of the investors. Capacity figures refer to feedstock volumes, with SAF yield estimated at 50% to 60%.

Junheng Industry Group Biotechnology Co Ltd

It started producing first SAF last December at a 400,000 tpy plant in the central city of Puyang at a cost of 1.3 billion yuan ($180 million), becoming the second SAF maker to win airworthiness certification from domestic civil aviation authorities after Sinopec’s Zhenhai.

It plans output of 150,000 metric tons of SAF this year, following its first export last December to Europe.

Zhejiang Jiaao Enprotech Co

Set up in 2003 as a producer of bio-based plasticizer, Jiaao became a biodiesel producer and exporter around 2016. As one of China’s largest biodiesel producers, it counts global oil majors Shell, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies among its clients.

In 2022 it decided to enter the SAF business and is building a 500,000 tpy plant costing 4 billion yuan in the port city of Lianyungang, with plans to expand to one million tpy. The government of Lianyungang owns a 30% stake in the venture.

Tianzhou New Energy

The group is set to start up a 200,000-tpy SAF facility towards the end of 2024 at a cost of one billion yuan in Weiyuan in the southwestern province of Sichuan, with plans to expand it to 500,000 tpy.

The firm started as an aviation fuel producer and has long worked with China National Aviation Fuel Corp.

Sichuan Jinshang Environmental Protection Tech Co Ltd

A collector of used cooking oil (UCO) since 2012, Jinshang began exporting UCO in 2015 to Europe, ranging from 200,000 to 300,000 tons a year to companies such as Neste, EcoCeres, Shell and PetroChina. It plans to start building a 400,000-tpy SAF plant in Sichuan in July targeted for completion by end-2025, at a cost of more than 1 billion yuan.

Shandong Haike Chemical Co Ltd

The independent oil refiner based in the eastern province of Shandong plans to revamp an existing refining unit into a 500,000-tpy SAF producer by the end of this year.

Sinopec Zhenhai

China’s first SAF maker, Sinopec Corp won certification in 2022 from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the world’s most rigorous standard for sustainable fuels, for its trial SAF production from a 100,000-tpy facility.

However, the facility in eastern Zhejiang province has not entered commercial production.

Qinzhou Hongkun

Started as a lubricant producer, the company plans to build a 300,000-tpy SAF plant in Qinzhou in the southern province of Guangxi, at a cost of 1.68 billion yuan. Sinchuan Jinshang owns a 20% stake of the plant, set to start up in the first quarter of 2026.

State Power Investment Corp (SPIC)

Last December, SPIC announced a plan to invest 42 billion yuan in northeast China to produce fuel from hydrogen derived from wind power.

The projects, to be built in the city of Qiqihar in northeastern Heilongjiang province, include a 3.5 gigawatt wind power plant, a 164,000 tpy hydrogen-making facility and two 400,000 tpy plants, one each to make SAF and methanol.

SPIC will first build a 10,000-tpy pilot plant making SAF from wind power-based hydrogen, applying technology from Tsing Energy Development Co, the first plant of its kind in China.

($1=7.2151 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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