Biofuel investment to drive shipping revolution

Energy giant bp has enhanced its bioenergy operations with a collaboration with a Californian biofuels company.

It has made a multimillion pound investment in WasteFuel, a California-based biofuels company that will use proven, scalable technologies to convert bio-based municipal and agricultural waste into lower carbon fuels, such as bio-methanol.

Globally, solid waste production totals about 2 billion metric tons annually and is expected to increase to 3.4 billion metric tons by 20501.

WasteFuel’s deployment of anaerobic digestion and methanol production technologies will convert municipal and agricultural waste into viable lower emission alternatives to traditional fuels, like bio-methanol.

Bp said a time of enhanced regulation over the use of renewable and sustainable energy sources in sectors, such as shipping, bio-methanol has the potential to play a significant role in decarbonization.

“Maritime transport represents around 90% of trade worldwide, whilst producing 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” it stated. “In the effort to reach net zero, some of the biggest companies in the shipping industry are converting to methanol-ready ships. bp is working to establish supplies of lower carbon alternative fuels for the shipping sector and will look to use its trading expertise to bring WasteFuel’s bio-methanol to market.”

WasteFuel said it plans to develop multiple bio-methanol plants around the world in collaboration with local strategic partners including waste companies. It expects its first project will be in Dubai and the company has a pipeline of additional projects to develop.

As such bp and WasteFuel have entered a memorandum of understanding for bp to offtake the produced bio-methanol and to work together to help optimise and improve bio-methanol production.

Gareth Burns, vice president of bp ventures, said: “WasteFuel projects will look to help with the growing volumes of global waste, whilst advancing the development of lower carbon solutions for hard-to-abate sectors. Achieving decarbonization in shipping will require a step-change, and biofuels have a key role to play in helping the industry to decarbonise. We look forward to working together on WasteFuel’s next stage of growth and market development.”

The energy company added Bioenergy is one of bp’s five transition growth engines, in which the company plans to invest heavily through this decade.

“The transition growth engines – which also include convenience, electric vehicle charging, hydrogen and renewables & power – will help drive bp’s transition to an integrated energy company and delivery of the company’s net zero ambition,” it added.

“Working with WasteFuel allows bp to offtake bio-methanol and help optimise production which could support decarbonizing shipping,” Philipp Schoelzel, vice president of next generation biofuels in bp, said. “bp is in action to produce more biofuels, aiming to deliver around 100,000 barrels per day by 2030, to help decarbonize transport. Investments like this are important as we strive to reach net zero and help our customers decarbonize too.”

Trevor Neilson, co-founder, chairman and CEO of WasteFuel added: “This investment from bp ventures is a significant milestone for WasteFuel as it will help scale the production of bio-methanol to decarbonize the shipping sector. As companies who are reliant on shipping work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential that we dramatically expand the availability of these fuels.”

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