Neste is the world's leading producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel produced from waste and residue raw materials. In 2021, it placed fourth on the Global 100 list of the most sustainable companies in the world. It has refineries in Rotterdam and Singapore, and since 2019, the heart of their renewable aviation division has been at the Pharos building in Amsterdam Airport City.
Neste produces Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), a drop-in solution that is readily available and already in commercial use at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and other airports. In its neat form and over the life cycle, its use can reduce carbon emissions up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel. Neste’s aim is to become a global leader in renewable and circular solutions and wants to help customers in aviation and beyond reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 million tons annually by 2030. And it believes Amsterdam is the place to achieve it.
Green sky thinking
Thorsten Lange, executive vice president of Neste Renewable Aviation
“The Netherlands is a frontrunner when it comes to renewables and green technologies, which is why we’ve decided to base our head office here,” said Thorsten Lange, executive vice president of Neste Renewable Aviation.
“The Dutch government is a strong promoter of the European climate ambitions, and for us to be able to further accelerate business growth, we need those strong local players.
“Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is also a strong partner when it comes to introducing policies, supporting the most sustainable flying, and supporting more sustainable efforts. In terms of products, we’re in the centre of Europe, and the inland is perfectly connected. Half of the European consumption on jet fuel is running through the port of Rotterdam, so the infrastructure is already there.”
Beyond infrastructure, Lange has also found Amsterdam attracts the talent Neste needs to grow its business effectively, including specialists in sustainability, sourcing, trading and logistics. “If you want to attract people from abroad, Amsterdam is almost a no-brainer,” he said. “The location alone opens opportunities for us to attract people because Amsterdam and its surrounding area is a very attractive place to live.”
For a transport and aviation company, connectivity is key and Amsterdam Airport City provides the rapid access needed for employees and visitors. The connection between Hoofddorp and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a three-minute train ride, with a service leaving every eight minutes.
“Once travel restrictions have been lifted, we’ll have a lot of visitors coming from all over the world,” Lange said. “Being close to the airport is definitely an advantage. The icing on the cake: from the 18th floor of the Pharos building, we can see our customers in front of us. Looking north, we have a view over the runways and the whole airport - an impressive sight. Pharos has a very modern take on how to live and work. The building is all about sustainability, it’s about creating a community, and about circularity. That’s a good match with our vision at Neste: we want to create a healthier planet for our children, and we want to do that faster, bolder and together.”
After 18 months of global restrictions, the travel and aviation industry have arguably been the last to get back to full throttle. Lange predicts aviation will recover to a minimum of 80-85% of what it had been before COVID-19 by 2023. But the protracted downturn gave a chance for renewable aviation to take off.
“From every angle, it has accelerated the awareness of sustainability. Not only policy makers, airports, and airlines have understood that flying has to cost more, and that using sustainable aviation fuel plays an important role in reducing carbon emissions and that it has a positive effect on the climate, passengers did, too. Sustainable aviation will be key in the future.”
Helping the industry along is new “blending mandates” from the European Union, coming in 2025, that will require aviation fuel to be 3-5% SAF. Pre-COVID-19, the worldwide consumption of regular jet fuel was 330 million tons. So one percent already equals more than three million tons of SAF that would be needed.
“Demand is growing, and we’ll have our production follow that demand,” Lange said.
Neste also hopes to make a wider impact by allowing travel-reliant businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by buying SAF, which Neste will then supply to airlines on their behalf.
“The value for businesses is very tangible as SAF represents a very real, direct and in-sector emission reduction compared to other alternatives,” Lange said. “For corporations, sustainability is almost a licence to operate. It will be much easier to collect funding for your business if you have a stronger ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) profile.”
Neste enjoyed a smooth landing in the Amsterdam Area thanks to IN Amsterdam, a one-stop shop for new international hires to settle in the region. “The Netherlands has a welcoming culture and starting a business here is perfectly arranged,” said Lange. “Our cooperation with the Dutch government couldn’t be better. We have good relations with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management but also with other authorities.”