PARIS (Reuters) - Oilseed processor Avril launched France’s first biodiesel-only fuel on Thursday, which it said should help the group drive sales growth at a time when it faces major competition in its home market from massive imports.
Biodiesel is usually blended with traditional fossil fuels, but Avril, the European Union’s largest biodiesel maker, said the pure product is less polluting, and is based on renewable French crops.
European biodiesel producers have been struggling since the EU scrapped duties on Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel last year in response to a ruling by the World Trade Organisation.
Cheap imported palm oil is also challenging rapeseed oil as a feedstock to produce biodiesel.
The new fuel, called Oleo 100, will be made from French rapeseed only and produced in Avril’s existing factories, its chief executive Jean-Philippe Puig told reporters.
Avril’s aim is to produce “several hundred thousand tonnes” of Oleo 100 per year, out of the group’s total annual biodiesel output in France of between 1.5 million and 1.6 million tonnes, he said.
Oleo 100 has been registered for use in vehicle fleets such as trucks and buses, but not passenger cars. Avril will distribute it to companies directly.
Existing diesel engines would need minor tweaks to be able to run on the new 100-percent biodiesel fuel, which would allow it to run for the same distance as standard diesel, Puig said.
“For the client it won’t change anything in their habits but for the industry it changes a lot because it is a new outlet for products coming fully from France,” Kristell Guizouarn, Avril’s director of sustainable development, said.
Production of 100-percent biodiesel based fuels has already been launched in other countries such as Sweden and Austria, she said.
Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Jan Harvey