Vivergo biorefinery to start operating in late spring
The new Vivergo biorefinery being built at Saltend near Hull is nearly complete and the Managing Director of Vivergo Fuels - the joint venture behind the plant - says operations will begin in late sping.
When finished the Vivergo biorefinery will be one of the largest in Europe and each year it will turn 1.1 million tonnes of locally grown feed wheat into 420 million litres of bioethanol and 500,000 tonnes of animal feed.
The plant has been under construction since 2008 and according to Dave Richards, Managing Director of Vivergo Fuels Ltd, should enter commercial operation within the next few months: "What we are saying to the market is late spring," he said. "When we get up and running, we will want to get up to our full rate as soon and as safely as we can."
Richards said the company had already started commissioning the "farm end" of the plant where the first stage of the refinery process takes place and the animal feed byproduct is produced. There are two other processing sections which must be finished before fuel can be made but work is more than 95 per cent finished.
Vivergo Fuels Ltd is a joint venture between British Petroleum, Associated British Foods and DuPont, and the biorefinery sits at the heart of the UK's wheat belt area, which is one of the highest yielding in the world.
Richards said the refinery aimed to use UK feed wheat: "Within 50 miles (of the refinery) there are a couple of million tonnes of feed wheat. We think over time we will take the majority of our wheat from within that zone," he said.
The wheat will be supplied by Frontier Agriculture, the UK's largest grain merchant, while the animal feed will be marketed by KW Trident. The bioethanol fuel has two potential customers nearby with the ConocoPhillips Humber refinery and Total's Lindsey Oil Refinery just around the corner.
The fuel can then be blended with fossil petrol and used to meet UK renewable transport fuel targets or be sold on the European market.
Biofuels still prove divisive with some and concerns have been raised over the sustainability of so called first generation biofuels made from food crops but Richards explains that the greenhouse gas savings from the bioethanol produced at the plant are likely to be between 50-60 per cent lower than those of fossil fuels and will have "very high" sustainability credentials.