UPM BioVerno, renewable diesel, helps to reduce transport emissions from diesel vehicles significantly, Finland

Context of Transport Climate Action

Road transport is one of the few industry sectors where carbon dioxide emissions have risen greatly in recent years. According to European Commission the transport sector is well on its way of becoming European Union’s biggest source of CO2 by 2030. Europe is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advanced biofuels are seen as being a key part of the solution. Advanced biofuel feedstocks do not compete with food and the fuel produced have considerably lower environmental impact than fuels made from petroleum oil or natural gas. If advanced biofuels reach their calculated potential, the CO2 savings from them could range from 60 to 85 per cent in most cases and thus make a significant contribution to EU’s climate targets. Biofuels also tackle the dependence of the transport sector on fossil fuels, which is one of the most serious issues affecting energy supply security that the EU faces. Therefore, increasing the local production of advanced biofuels is required.


UPM Biofuels, a strategic business unit of Finland-based bio and forest company, UPM, has innovated and developed a production process to transform a wood-based residue from their own pulp production into a unique advanced biofuel that can be used in any diesel engine – car, bus or truck – without modification. UPM BioVerno provides a unique high quality renewable diesel reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% during its lifecycle compared to fossil-based diesel, and its feedstock does not compete with food production. It also reduces tailpipe emissions significantly. All emissions, including particle mass, hydrocarbon, carbon dioxide, nitrogeous oxide and carbon monoxide emissions, are reduced significantly of percent compared to conventional diesel fuel.

In addition, there is no additional demand of biomass or extension of forest harvest area because the process uses UPM`s own processing residue as feedstock. The world’s first commercial scale wood-based biorefinery is located in Lappeenranta, Finland, and started commercial production in January 2015. It has an annual production capacity of 100,000 tons – or 120 million liters – of renewable diesel. UPM’s made an investment of EUR 175 million and received no public grants. The biorefinery is the largest advanced biofuels plant in Europe and one of the very few commissioned in the last 12 months globally.


The biorefinery production facilities and process are the results of a 5 year development phase at UPM biorefinery development centre, based on sustainable innovation and testing of pilot production.

UPM Biofuels made the investment decision to build a commercial scale biorefinery in February 2012. The construction started in summer 2012 and was completed in autumn 2014. The construction work employed 200 workers in total for more than two years, and reached 500 at the height of construction. To build the first of a kind biorefinery, 200 different supply agreements were made. UPM Lappeenranta biorefinery started commercial production in January 2015 and is now operated by 50 workers. In addition, the biorefinery employs 150 people indirectly.

UPM has founded a strategic business unit employing 120 persons, UPM Biofuels, based on the innovation and to help develop and produce wood-based biofuels.

The biorefinery uses crude tall oil, a natural wood extract and a residue of UPM´s own pulp production, as feedstock and the innovative production process was developed in-house. The innovation was to be able to convert whole crude tall oil into renewable diesel without changing the main process for pulp production.




  • The transport sector, by offering a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel and to help fulfil biofuel mandates with a cost-competitive, high quality transport fuel that resembles fossil diesel and is fully compatible with today’s diesel vehicles and fuel distribution systems globally and truly decreases CO2 emissions (by 80%).
  • Benefiting from a high stability of oxygen-free fuel there is a significantly lower risk of degradation via bacterial contamination or oxygenation during storage, when compared to 1st generation biodiesel, which is an advantage in the distribution and storage of the fuel. In addition, the fuel functions as direct replacement for fossil diesel without blending limits.
  • The global community will benefit from the availability of a renewable fuel with minimal negative impacts on climate and air pollution and its production does not compete with food feedstocks and does not affect direct or indirect land use change or harvesting.
  • The local economy benefits, by reducing oil imports and creating jobs by increasing the use of domestic raw materials, introducing new technology and equipment and increasing the variety of job opportunities.
  • The local forest owners, guaranteeing purchases of wood locally for the biorefinery integrate site using wood as raw material for different businesses, such as pulp, paper, sawn timber and biofuels

The automotive industry, by offering a high quality fuel without the need to modify engines. The improved fuel characteristics result in improved engine performance, resulting significantly decreased engine emissions (NOx, HC, CO, particle emissions).

Potential for scaling up

Wood-based biofuels provide an opportunity for the European pulp and paper industry. The production of wood-based biofuels from traditional European pulp

and paper industry processes helps to provide more local opportunities and creates jobs in rural areas. Forest industry bio-refineries can become key parts of European bio-economy by providing numerous fuels, chemicals and products from natural and renewable raw material, wood, to replace non-renewable raw materials and fuels. Wood-based biofuel investments benefit economy and employment – domestic/EU area raw material, technology, equipment & labor. Existing pulp and paper facilities offer significant possibilities for conversion into biorefineries, based on the existing infrastructure and raw material supply chains.

Europe is the most forest-rich region in the world with 1.02 billion hectares of forest amounting 25 percent of the global forest resources. Over the last 20 years, the total area of forest in Europe has increased by almost 13 million hectares. There is a significant amount of unutilized forest resources in Europe that can be used as feedstock. In contrary to agricultural production, emissions in forestry are extremely low and forests provide a high carbon stock during their lifecycle. The forest industry is one of the few industries that has the capacity to develop large scale advanced biofuel production. For the EU to reach the 2030 targets, large volumes are needed and using renewable forests as feed stock for bio fuels could be one way to achieve this.

Selected references

UPM Biofuels website: www.upmbiofuels.com

The story of UPM BioVerno renewable diesel:


UPM BioVerno wins EU Sustainable Energy Europe Award: http://www.upmbiofuels.com/whats-new/news/Pages/UPM-BioVerno-wins-EU-Sustainable-Energy-Europe-Award.aspx

UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery wins the Commercial Scale Plant of the year Award: http://www.upmbiofuels.com/whats-new/news/Pages/upm-lappeenranta-biorefinery-wins-the-commercial-scale-plant-of-the-year-award-.aspx

UPM Biofuels co-operate with WWF to promote sustainability:


Reduction of tailpipe emissions:





Europe, Finland


Commercial start-up of the biorefinery 2015




Europe, Mitigation, Freight, passenger, Technology


UPM Biofuels


Sari Mannonen, Director, Sales & Marketing, UPM Biofuels sari.mannonen@upm.com

“UPM Biofuels have developed a novel high quality low emission fuel for consumers using genuinely renewable sources with Finnish expertise and development work. We made progress with remarkable R&D work and important investments for developing sustainable wood-based biofuels by commissioning the first in the world wood-based biorefinery in Lappeenranta, Finland in January 2015. The recognitions, such as European Union’s Sustainable Energy Europe Award confirms that we have managed to make significant progress in sustainable advanced biofuels.,” says Sari Mannonen, Director of Sales and Marketing at UPM Biofuels.