A young and energetic CEO, Mr. Yousif Lootah overlooks the strategic direction, expansion and daily operations of Lootah Biofuels in the UAE and internationally.
Mr. Yousif Lootah introduced Lootah Biofuels with an aim to introduce and innovate sustainable solutions for the long-term energy requirements of the UAE and beyond.
He believes in partnering with companies who share the same vision as him of using sustainable renewable fuels to promote environmental awareness throughout the various sectors in the UAE.
Mr. Yousif has been the brain to many sustainable initiatives by the company. After successful production of Biofuels from managing waste, recently, Mr. Lootah has gone one step ahead and signed up with educational institutions to create awareness and training for the young people of the region, thus, inspiring them to adopt small but significant changes to their daily lifestyle and make a difference.
With a proven track record and passion for innovation, his efforts to promote sustainable transportation have earned coveted awards and recognition including RTA’s Dubai Award for Sustainable Transport (DAST) in the conservation of environment category in 2008.
Prior to introducing Lootah Biofuels, Mr. Yousif was actively involved in the sustainable initiatives by the S.S. Lootah Group such as the Green Car Program which has seen a great progression since its inception starting from conversion of part of company fleet to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), followed by the use of Hybrid, Electric, Biodiesel and Solar vehicles in recent years.
Lootah Biofuels, a fully owned subsidiary of the SS Lootah Group is a business entity created after the successful completion of SS Lootah Group’s biodiesel Project, which won the Dubai Award for Sustainable Transportation (DAST) for the use of biofuel, made from Used Cooking Oil (UCO), in the company’s fleet of ready-mix trucks.
Lootah Biofuels aims to introduce and innovate sustainable solutions for the long term energy requirements. High carbon footprint countries like UAE see biofuels as a way of reducing harmful emissions and combating global warming. Lootah Biofuels produces Biodiesel from used cooking oil for our customers’ individual quality and sustainability requirements. Our objective is to produce Biodiesel in the most efficient and sustainable way to deliver economic value and environmental benefits.
To meet the biodiesel challenges in UAE, Lootah Biofuels introduced biodiesel as a pilot project in a non-subsidized model by working on the locally available knowledge, technical knowhow and resources, thereby making it viable. Working closely with Universities, engineering teams and marketers, LBF has developed a model for Biodiesel production that is complimentary to various sectors which is waste, transportation, energy, education and research, thus complimenting the sustainability strategy and image of the UAE. Realizing the importance of economic perspective Lootah Biofuels has strived hard on localizing the technology and using the local synergies in ensuring that the costs of production is below the cost of diesel without any sort subside.
One of the most parsimonious choices of the company to produce biodiesel is Used Cooking Oil that is otherwise wasted and creates environmental hazards, which is successfully pilot tested in vehicles with industry acceptable standards.
Mr. Al Lootah, what was the inspiration for the creation of Lootah Biofuels? How was it started and developed?
The inspiration behind the very concept of introducing biofuels in the UAE was to provide this region an eco – friendly alternative fuel at economically viable prices. . Producing biodiesel at prices par with the diesel prices prevalent in the GCC was once considered impossible. With more and more GCC countries removing subsidies for diesel and following market prices, Biodiesel has become attractive or at least become realistic. Forecasting a sharp increase in the diesel consumption, reduction in the non renewable sources of energy and rise in the diesel prices in UAE compelled me to think that the use of biofuels will have a cascade effect in future.
Lootah Biofuels, a fully owned subsidiary of the SS Lootah Group was created after the successful completion of SS Lootah Group’s biodiesel Project, which won the Dubai Award for Sustainable Transportation (DAST) for the use of biofuel, made from Used Cooking Oil (UCO), in the company’s fleet of ready-mix trucks. To meet the biodiesel challenges in UAE, Lootah Biofuels introduced biodiesel as a pilot project in a non-subsidized model by working on the locally available knowledge, technical knowhow and resources, thereby making it viable.
In the five years that Lootah Biofuels has been operational, what are the main achievements and milestones of the company?
The fundamental objective of Lootah Biofuels was to change the mindset of the people to use biofuels. In a country like the UAE where the fuel prices are extremely lower as compared to other parts of the world, introduction of biofuels and its acceptance by the people was quite challenging. Our main motive was to educate people and create awareness about the benefits of using biofuels.
Biofuel initiative was structured in such a way that there is active involvement for all – end user, fuel supplier and regulator. A holistic approach by building confidence among the three helped us to play a catalyst role in coming out of the crisis of carbon emissions arising from the increasing of millions of vehicles and surging oil prices. This project has the advantage of active participation and involvement of people, companies, entities and policy makers. The success helps us to work together in bringing a fundamental change towards the society and the environment.
In 2014 we have recycled approx 500000 litres of used cooking oil into biofuel . Today we have 50 plus sustainable partners, including esteemed organizations like RTA, Emirates Group, TNT who have pilot tested biofuel in their fleet and registered positive results which is our biggest achievement. It is not far away when all of the diesel vehicles will have a compulsory blend percentage of biofuel.This is only possible when all the stakeholders and partners will join hands in making a better and greener tomorrow.
In the past you have said ““We are not looking to make money…We are looking to be the change in the country, and lead this change.” What kind of change do you hope to achieve? Is biofuel an attractive alternative from an economical point of view for companies considering a switch from traditional fuel sources?
First of all I want to clarify that no business runs without making money, but more than just being a mere profit making business entity, we are more focused on our social responsibility towards the environment. I believe care for our environment begins from each of us and builds to the broader, national and global issues. We should be careful not to imagine that biofuels alone will replace our use of fossil fuels. We need a much bigger change - a combination of high-efficiency systems, awareness among the people, redesigned communities, and energy produced from clean, renewable sources. But changes of that scale take time.
Since biofuel in the Middle East is a novel concept as compared to our European counterparts, people are doubtful to use it thinking as it might affect their engines and must be costly too. Aligning with the policy of providing sustainable transportation, we need to educate people that biofuel is completely safe for their engines as well as cheaper as compared to conventional fuel.
There is an impression that greener choices are more expensive and difficult to access. But it is easy for people to switch to greener choices, if the cost is less, thereby creating an incentive for the end user. Producing biodiesel at prices less than the diesel prices prevalent in the GCC were once considered impossible. With more and more GCC countries removing subsidies for diesel and following market prices, Biodiesel has become attractive or at least become realistic.
Lootah Biofuels have become a leader in cooking oil conversion to biodiesel in Dubai, what are your plans for expansion in the region?
Yes, we look forward to do expansion and more international collaborations in future. With the increasing biodiesel demand in UAE and GCC, the expansion of biodiesel production and market is inevitable. We do have international collaborations for biodiesel research and development, but certainly we are also looking forward to join hands with international players in the biodiesel market in order to address the biodiesel demand and promotion on a larger scale. Basically from Europe and other countries we are looking forward for import of technology and not biodiesel because in the US and European countries biodiesel demand is comparatively higher than the middle east and if we will have a biodiesel plant in UAE we will be able to cater the ever increasing demand of biodiesel in Europe and US because biodiesel production is expensive in the US and Europe as compared to UAE due to the tax structure and feedstock availability. We look forward to export biodiesel to other countries and import technology, equipments, machinery, training and many knowledge based import from Europe and US.
Lootah Biofuels has conducted research into the development of biodiesel from algae. How far has this progressed and when do you expect full scale production can start?
Lootah Biofuels has signed a contract with Singapore-based algae oil producers AlgaOil Limited to enter into a new project which will see the two companies collaborate to develop raw materials for biofuels such as algae oil that contain a high content of oil. Lootah Biofuels will combine its local engineering with AlgaOil’s algae cultivation knowledge and infrastructure to set up a project to produce biofuel from algae. AlgaOil will utilize its high end research on cultivation of microalgae to set up open ponds for bigger scale algae production. Lootah Biofuels is also conducting comprehensive research in this field with optimizations of photobioreactors (PBR) and solar powered, open pond constructions for big scale algae production to ascertain the benefits of producing algae in the Middle East. Lootah Biofuel research includes the uses of the high value algae biomass as fish food for fish hatcheries.