Wheat plant despatches bioethanol

The first tanker of sustainably produced bioethanol has been despatched to Shell from the UK’s and Europe’s largest wheat biorefinery, which recently started production.

Annual production of the new Ensus biorefinery on Teesside is expected to meet about a third of the UK requirement under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, which requires 3.5 per cent of all transport fuel to come from biofuels in 2010-11. The plant will also produce 350,000 tonnes a year of high-protein animal feed, which will replace imports.

Alwyn Hughes, Ensus chief executive officer, said: ’We are taking in animal-feed wheat, of which the UK has a large surplus, and refining it into bioethanol and high-protein animal feed. At the same time, we are capturing all the CO2 we produce for use in the food and beverage industries.’

All the wheat for the plant will be supplied by Glencore Grain UK, which will also market the high-protein animal feed.

The plant, located at Wilton on Teesside, cost in excess of £250m, with a further £60m of investment from associated companies. It will use 1.2m tonnes of wheat to produce more than 400 million litres of bioethanol and 350,000 tonnes of high-protein animal feed per year.

It has been financed by private-equity companies The Carlyle Group and Riverstone Holdings and a consortium of banks. Shell UK is taking all the output of the plant on a 10-year contract.