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Sidestreams – resource-wise solutions are the future of industry

Finland's CTO of the Year for 2014 speaks about his pride in the award and the importance of renewable fuels to Neste Oil...

Writer

Lars Peter Lindfors

CTO, Senior Vice President, Neste Oil

Published

I was happy to receive the 2014 CTO of the Year award. This is the fourth time this award has been presented. Receiving this award means a great deal to me personally, but it also means a lot to everyone who has participated in the development of renewable raw materials and new biofuel business processes. The award criterion was the same as in previous years. It is presented to a chief technology officer (CTO) whose work has contributed to the technological performance and growth potential of their company, and who is an inspiring leader and a major contributor to societal networks. Another focus area in this year’s selection was sustainable development. 

Sustainable development and resource wisdom are here to stay. At Neste Oil, technological know-how has long been a key area of expertise. After all, our company has roughly 1 000 professionals who use technology in their work on a daily basis. When we set out to develop solutions based on renewable raw materials, this included investing in expertise related to sustainable development and resource-wise solutions. Today, these are our key areas of expertise.

In 2013, our new business area, renewable fuels, made an operating profit of over 270 million euros with revenue of approximately 2.5 billion euros. For this, we used roughly 2.5 million tonnes of raw materials, of which more than half were residues-based. In Porvoo, we produced approximately 400 thousand tons of renewable diesel entirely from residues while, in total, more than a million tons of our renewable diesel was residues-based. This is equivalent to the total fuel need, based on normal use, of well over a million cars!

During my 25-year career, globalisation has made a breakthrough. The world is smaller, challenges are increasingly diverse and there is less and less time. All this makes co-operation ever more important. There is often a need for a wide range of partners when solving problems or creating something new – both in Finland and globally. You need a holistic vision and a broad network of expertise, as well as interdisciplinary co-operation. Language skills and an understanding of different cultures are success factors in the international field of engineering. We need to ensure that we will have a competitive education system also in the future. Other focus areas should include basic research and corporate renewal – expertise gives us a competitive edge. We need to encourage cross-sectoral co-operation, because the best innovations know no boundaries.

Long-term research is vital for the national economy. Researchers have to be skilled, co-operative, determined and persistent, and have a healthy dose of self-confidence. Turning new innovations into business takes time, resources and patience. For this reason, decision-makers need to make a long-term commitment and keep on a steady course. We need to set common goals regarding biofuels, for example. Product quality and resource-efficient business processes based on sustainability throughout the process, from raw materials to end product, should be the guiding principles in decision-making. Apart from that, I would like us to remain as neutral as possible concerning technologies and raw materials.

We will humbly continue along this path, bearing in mind the need to keep the wheels of development turning.

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