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A CHF 100 million renewable fuel plant in the canton of Valais


19 July 2022

Helvoil will build a new plant for the production of HVO fuel in Monthey. More efficient than biodiesel, this fuel is made by recycling used food oils.

Helvoil is planning to build the first Swiss plant to produce renewable fuel from used edible oils and animal fats in Monthey (canton of Valais).

The plant is to be built on the Monthey chemical site, on a plot of about 215,300 square feet, and is slated to be operational by mid-2024. Helvoil intends to produce 100,000 tons of fuel per year, enough to cover the consumption of all road freight traffic between Basel and Chiasso for twelve months or to fill all Swiss diesel cars twice a year.

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) can be used for road transport and, potentially, for air transport, either at the pump or mixed with diesel fuel. HVO is made from a mixture of hydrogen and used food oils and animal fats.

“In Switzerland, the consumption of vegetable oils amounts to about 150’000 tons per year. We can recover 20% of this, or 30,000 tons, half of which comes from industrial kitchens such as burger and kebab restaurants, the other half from collection points for private households. The rest has to be imported from nearby countries such as France, Italy and Germany”, explains Luca Schenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Helvoil.

Greater self-sufficiency of Switzerland in renewable fuels

At present, Switzerland imports all the HVO fuel it uses, i.e. 50,000 tons in 2020 according to data from the Federal Customs Administration. According to Luca Schenk, the Monthey plant aims to contribute to a better self-sufficiency of Switzerland in renewable fuels for road transport, with CO2 emissions that can be reduced by up to 90%.

The investment required to bring the plant into operation is approximately CHF 100 million. In the long term, up to 40 new jobs will be created.

Although the project is unique in Switzerland, HVO plants already exist in France, Italy, Holland, the United States and Singapore. About forty engineers have been working for two years on this factory project.