Biorefinery – Est-For Invest

Initiators of Biorefinery project met with environmentalists in Tartu

Tartu, April 12th, 2017 – Today’s information meeting at Estonian University of Life Sciences brought together initiators of the billion-euro biorefinery project in the Suur-Emajõgi basin, representatives of Tartu county municipalities, environmentalists, academia, and students.

The event was the first in a series of public information meetings and its aim was to give an overview of the next steps in the research and analysis phase of the refinery project, as well as explain the environmental impact assessment and planning process.

Project initiators Margus Kohava and Aadu Polli explained the upcoming activities in relation to the refinery. Head of Estonian Association of Environmental Impact Assessors Riin Kutsar detailed the Estonian procedure for assessing the refinery’s environmental impact and the Head of Estonian Planning Association Heiki Kalberg gave an overview of location planning in Estonia, including the designated spatial planning procedure.

According to Margus Kohava, Member of the Management Board of the initiative group Est-For Invest, the company has met dozens of Estonian and international scientists, environmentalists, officials, politicians, and cabinet members during the last three months to introduce the topics related to the refinery.

“A project of this size cannot be developed in isolation, the process needs to be public and involve different stakeholders. Our cooperation with the government does not involve a request for more favourable treatment. Public support by cabinet members is necessary to foster the international competitiveness of Estonian business and legal environment, not to speed up any specific major project. If the government does not voice its support publicly, we cannot be successful in competing with projects from other countries,” Kohava added.

“Today’s meeting also confirmed a wide public interest in our project, which is why we are prepared to organise such public debates more frequently than the official planning process would require,” Kohava explained.

Aadu Polli added that similar refineries are being built in Northern and Central Europe, on the coasts of significantly smaller rivers and in areas of much higher population density, while the people’s expectations concerning the natural environment and quality of life are the same as we have here in Estonia. “If developed countries with similar environmental factors in play are implementing these technologies, solutions, and opportunities to build modern sustainable biorefineries, we believe that Estonian state and society will be able to do it as well,” Polli commented.

Before making the final decision to invest, initiators of the project need confidence that the biorefinery can be set up in compliance with all environmental regulations.

Video recordings of the 12 April event are available in two parts:
Part I
Part II

Additional information:
Margus Kohava
Est-For Invest OÜ
Member of the Management Board
Phone +372 50 36370

Aadu Polli
Est-For Invest OÜ
Member of the Management Board
Phone +372 51,000 77

Background information

A group of Estonian investors with long-term experience in the field of forestry and timber industry is considering construction of a modern and sustainable wood processing plant (biorefinery) in Estonia. The size of the investment would be approximately EUR 1 billion, making it the historically largest industrial investment in Estonia. The refinery, when ready, would be the most modern in Europe.

It would be a unique new generation wood refining facility in Estonia, producing a number of renewable products, including cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin for different bioproducts, as well as green energy in an ecologically sound way. The renewable energy production by the refinery would exceed its own consumption by 25% on a continuous and stable basis. This would mean a 34 to 45 % increase for renewable energy production in Estonia.

According to the preliminary plans, the production would start in 2022. The planned production capacity is up to 700 000 tons of bioproducts per year. An estimated 3 million cubic metres of pulpwood and woodchips per year, currently exported at a four to five time cheaper price, would be used as the local raw material. The planned refinery would not increase logging volumes in Estonia. Most of the raw timber would originate in Estonia but, if necessary, also be imported from Latvia and Lithuania.

The feasibility of the project is being analysed in close cooperation with different Estonian authorities and noted scientific experts. The investors are seeking close cooperation with all the stakeholders, academic circles, and potential co-investors to ensure the environmental compliance and socio-economic sustainability of the technology and operation, as well as the project’s correspondence with the interests of the Estonian society.

It is a prerequisite to the opening of the biorefinery that the construction, technology, and operation of the plant must comply with modern environmental requirements, best available techniques (BAT), as well as the needs of Estonian economy and society.