In May, Novozymes announced that we will supply customized enzyme technology to a Finnish plant – the first facility in the world to produce cellulosic ethanol from wood sawdust. This announcement marks an important step for cellulosic ethanol production in regions that are rich in softwood. (Softwood comes from trees like pine which have needles instead of leaves.)

The new biorefinery will be built by St1 Biofuels in Kajaani, Finland, and will be co-located at a sawmill site. The plant will initially produce 10 million liters of cellulosic ethanol; however, this can be scaled up to annual output of 50 to 100 million liters.

Northern Europe has a large industrial sector based on forestry, and this opens up many possibilities. The biomass and specialist knowledge is available here, and the long-term political framework is in place in Finland which all works together to enable the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol based on softwood.

The construction of the biorefinery supports Finland’s climate and energy strategy. The country seeks to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels by reducing oil imports and increasing the share of renewable fuels. Specifically, Finland’s target is to expand renewable fuel use to 40% by 2030—an increase from the current use of 8%.

Construction of the biorefinery is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2015, with production expected to start in 2016.

Read Novozymes press releaseRead St1 Biofuels’ announcement

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Sebastian Soderberg

Sebastian leads Novozymes Biomass Activities World Wide and is based in Denmark, when not travelling. Sebastian has worked for various business areas in Novozymes including Animal Nutrition and Technical Enzymes and was part of the Acquisition Team leading Novozymes’ entry into Bio-Agriculture. Prior to joining Novozymes in 2007, Sebastian worked several years as an Investment Banker in Nordea and also a couple of years in the Smart Card industry. He has a Masters of Science in International Business and Finance from Copenhagen Business School. Sebastian is intrigued by being part of driving the creation of a new clean and sustainable energy industry.