Operations: renewable diesel, AdBlue® and solar energy production, logistics and storage hub, training center offering real facilities, planned production of low-carbon hydrogen
Start: July 2019
world-class biorefinery in France
Built in Châteauneuf-les-Martigues near Marseille, France in 1935, the La Mède complex has been undergoing a transformation since 2015. The site is geared towards the energies of the future, which are set to drive growth for TotalEnergies and the local region. La Mède's conversion reflects our commitment to play an active role in developing renewable energies, while keeping CO2 emissions under control.
TotalEnergies has invested €337 million to convert La Mède into a facility focused on the new energies. The key ambition behind the project involves converting the refinery into a biorefinery.
The La Mède complex also features an AdBlue® production unit, a logistics and storage hub, and a solar power plant.
The site is also home to TotalEnergies' second OLEUM training center, two partnerships with Veolia to grow microalgae and recover waste, and the Masshylia project in partnership with ENGIE to design one of the largest low-carbon hydrogen production facilities in France.
France’s first world-class biorefinery
Commissioned in 2019, the La Mède biorefinery has a production capacity of 500,000 metric tons of renewable diesel per year and can process a wide variety of certified sustainable feedstocks, such as vegetable oils, used cooking oils and animal fats from the circular economy. Since January 1, 2023, palm oil has been excluded from the raw materials processed at La Mède.
A new investment of €70 million was announced in June 2023 with the aim of ramping up the biorefinery's transformation from 2024. This package will help upgrade the site's facilities to process up to 100% used cooking oil and animal fats.
100% of the oils purchased by TotalEnergies for La Mède meet the sustainability criteria set by the European Union. Compliance with the sustainability criteria for oils purchased for the La Mède biorefinery is established by an International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) sustainability certificate based on the mass balance system required by the European Union(1).
AdBlue® is an additive used to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel engines (trucks and passenger vehicles). The AdBlue® production unit at La Mède produces 50,000 metric tons per year.
A flexible, multimodal storage and logistics hub
A new logistics and storage hub started operations in April 2017. Located in the heart of the Marseille Fos Port, the hub boasts a storage capacity of 1.3 million cubic meters and is capable of storing fuels (gasoline and diesel), heating oil and aviation fuels.
An industrial scale training center
La Mède hosts TotalEnergies' second OLEUM training center. Modeled after the center of the same name at our Flanders facility near Dunkirk, this training center for oil and petrochemical industries is one of the world's few such facilities based in a real industrial complex. The center is able to train over 2,000 people a year. The La Mède OLEUM international training center also provides a demonstration platform to trial digital projects under real operating conditions in TotalEnergies' industrial environment.
A high-performance solar power plant
The La Mède solar power plant came on stream in 2017. It is equipped with high-performance cells produced by the Company's affiliate SunPower and has a production capacity of 8 megawatts (MW), enough to meet the electricity needs of a city of 13,000 people.
Two partnerships with Veolia at La Mède
A test platform for growing microalgae
In July 2021, TotalEnergies and Veolia joined forces to accelerate the development of microalgae cultivation using CO2. Both partners are working together on a four-year research project at the La Mède site, with the long-term goal of producing biofuels.
Through photosynthesis, microalgae use sunlight and CO2 from the atmosphere or industrial processes to grow. When mature, they can be transformed into next-generation biofuels with low carbon intensity. The test platform at La Mède is used to compare different innovative systems for growing microalgae and identify the most efficient systems.
A clay and effluent recovery process
TotalEnergies and SEDE, a Veolia Group affiliate, are working together at La Mède to develop a process for recovering biorefinery effluent and clay through anaerobic digestion.
This process converts waste from the biorefinery(2) into biogas and digestate (an agricultural fertilizer). The biorefinery is now capable of recovering almost 90% of the waste that it produces through this circular processing chain. This process will also be used for the future biorefinery at the Grandpuits platform.
Masshylia, an innovative project to produce low-carbon hydrogen
In January 2021, TotalEnergies and ENGIE signed a cooperation agreement to design, develop, build and operate the Masshylia project at La Mède, one of the largest low-carbon hydrogen production sites in France. The Masshylia electrolyser is expected to produce 50 metric tons of green hydrogen per day from photovoltaic energy to meet the needs of the biorefinery's biofuel production process, thereby avoiding 100,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.
The Masshylia project has been labelled as innovative and of great interest to the region by several regional institutions (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur South Region, Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence, and the Capenergies business cluster). It has garnered the support of local stakeholders for its ability to reduce CO2 emissions and demonstrate the economic advantages of low-carbon hydrogen and its integration into the local ecosystem and at the European level. Production is scheduled for 2027.
(1) see Article 18(1) of Directive 2009/28/EC of April 23, 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
(2) The La Mède biorefinery produces nearly 10,000 metric tons of waste every year. This waste is mainly filtration clay and effluent containing a mixture of up to 20% vegetable oils and animal fats.