Biofuels and Hydrogen: The Future of the Energy Trading Business?

Posted on January 28 , 2021. 
By Henri Moore

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As part of a cleaner path forward for business, the move toward renewable energy means incorporating green solutions like biofuels and hydrogen. Biofuels are produced from agricultural plants and waste, and emit less pollution compared to traditional non-renewable energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. Hydrogen is another efficient and clean source of energy, producing zero-emission power from a combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in fuel cells via electrolysis. These cells act as a kind of battery that can be used by the industrial sector.

Energy companies are making the switch

British Petroleum and Orsted have also created a partnership to develop a new green project for hydrogen production. Orsted’s massive wind farm in the North Sea will provide renewable energy to be used in BP’s refinery in Germany. Similarly, Repsol aims to be a leading sustainable energy producer. They produce close to a million tonnes of biofuels each year, planning to reach over a production capacity of two million tonnes over the next decade.

Other energy giants are starting to fit alternative sustainable energy solutions into their long-term goals. Shell is cutting backon its crude oil processing capacity and closing down its Philippines refinery, while implementing bio-energy solutions that use recycled chemicals and feedstocks.

Likewise, Italian oil and gas giant Eni have set out to expand their biofuel capacitymoving forward. In line with the EU’s increasing demand for biofuels due to the de-carbonising mandate, Eni plans to shift its conventional refinery solutions into bio-refineries, all within a rapid time frame. Eni’s materials for this project include food waste, animal fats, and other miscellaneous byproducts.

Elsewhere, BP’s new green hydro project will help the company reduce its oil production by 40% over a ten-year span, alongside a predicted drop in oil demand over the next 30 years. This decision to shift from its traditional strategy will allow BP to provide future-proof, sustainable solutions.

 The positive role played by trading houses

 Trading houses such as Trafigura are helping to accelerate this transition by investing in greener energy solutions. As one of the largest companies to trade in base metals and non-renewable energy, their new investment with H2 Energy will enhance their current supply-chain network in the energy sector.

The large trading commodity group Gunvor has recently launched a new biodiesel borrowing base facility, built around their inventory-based positions. Since 2009, Gunvor has been active reducing carbon in the fuel sector’s supply chain and logistics areas, while providing the necessary industrial infrastructure including refineries, storage, and transport pipelines.

Gunvor also provides much-needed biofuel feedstocks such as residual waste and byproducts, which are processed in their own biofuel refineries. Data from the first half of 2020 shows that roughly 50% of Gunvor’s total trading volume involved transitional commodities such as biofuels.

 Navigating toward cleaner seas

 In keeping with the trend toward greener solutions, the shipping industry is on track to upgrade their fuel resource systems. Together with LNG used for powering vessels, the addition of hydrogen and bio-LNG as additional sources of fuel will help advance toward the goal of clean, long-term energy solutions in the near future.

Three years ago, Maritime Belge introduced a passenger boat that is hydrogen-powered, and is currently developing a new hydrogen-powered ferry. At least another 10 years may be needed for the shipping industry to fully utilise hydrogen, but efforts are already underway.

 With major players in the energy sector shifting their focus towards renewable energy sources such as hydrogen and biofuels, real expertise in these areas will be in high demand moving forward. Indeed, new fuels require new areas of expertise throughout all affected industries, and those with the relevant skills will be in high demand.

As a leading talent resource provider in different industries, Connexus can help you with this business transformation. Contact us now to find out how we can work for you.

Henri Moore

Business Director

Commodities & Renewables


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