Renewable energies

Pioneer in biofuels

As the producer of a biodiesel marketed under the Diester® brand, Avril has been developing, for the last 20 years, a fuel to replace a part of diesel, thus contributing to the energy transition in France and Europe.
A renewable fuel produced mainly from rapeseed oil, biodiesel has physicochemical characteristics close to that of diesel, allowing petroleum companies to mix them to provide fuel for diesel engines. Incorporated into diesel in a proportion of 8%, Diester® is distributed in all French service stations. Even though this first generation biofuel has now reached a stabilisation phase, its production is part of a comprehensive chain organisation that provides a number of benefits into the bargain.

Avril subsidiaries engaged in biofuel production: Saipol


By increasing the areas of cultivated rapeseed, the biodiesel sector increases the production of oilseed meal, a by-product of the oilseed crushing process. Intended for livestock nutrition, this vegetable protein source reduces France's and Europe's dependency on soya. In addition, biodiesel offers outlets to 100,000 rapeseed producers, generates direct savings on diesel imports and provides thousands of non-relocatable jobs in regions.


Another effect of the biodiesel sector is that a movement for the continuous improvement of energy performances follows on in its wake, benefiting the entire rapeseed and sunflower seed sector. Introduced in 2007, the aim of the "Démarche de Progrès" (initiative for progress) is to improve all environmental assessments from field to pump. After a diagnosis phase, farmers set up improvement plans for rapeseed-growing practices, designed to optimise their energy performance and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 
Meanwhile, an energy-saving and energy source diversification programme has been started up in the Group's factories. This relies mainly on biomass, like the Saipol plant in Bassens, where the boiler burns sunflower husks to provide the steam needed for production.


To prepare for future biomass-based renewable energies, Avril is exploring several avenues of research on the second-generation biofuels. Among these approaches, the Group is taking part in the BioTfueL research programme, which is developing a process chain for producing biodiesel and biokerosene using agricultural residues and forest waste (straw, wood, etc.). Avril also investigates the production of oil using the fermentation method