Following a four a month shut down period, Britain’s largest bioethanol plant has reopened.
Vivergo’s facility in East Yorkshire is Europe’s second largest bioethanol facility. It shut down in November 2017, citing unfavourable trading conditions. According to the company, these unfavourable conditions were driven in part by the Government’s inaction on the future of renewable fuels, as well as the market conditions at the time.
In announcing the reopening of the plant, Vivergo has warned that Government action is needed on the uncertainty over the introduction of E10 fuel in the UK, in order to secure the company's future. At the same time, the company has welcomed the passing of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) as a positive step forward.
“We are pleased to see the RTFO pass through Parliament. This step, combined with the completion of maintenance work, has prompted us to recommence production after being offline over the winter period. However, there is much still to do if we are to sustain production and maintain this significant industry in the UK,” said Mark Chesworth, managing director of Vivergo Fuels.
“Whilst we value the recent government commitment to the RTFO, it is vital that we now progress this through the rapid introduction of E10 for three key reasons:
- From an environmental perspective, it would provide an immediate impact on transport emissions to the benefit of the environment and public health. With new petrol vehicle registrations rising to 63% this year alone, petrol hybrid vehicles also increasing and fully electric vehicles still representing just 0.6% of sales, E10 represents the fastest and most cost-effective solution to decarbonise transport, which is currently the highest emitting sector of greenhouse gases in the UK
- In terms of investment, our £350 million plant was predicated on the UK government’s commitment to the Renewable Energy Directive enacted though to transport fuel to the RTFO, and anticipated the UK market would be twice what it is today by now. Government inertia in developing legislation on this situation has further undermined confidence in renewables investment not least the further development of alternative new technologies
- Vivergo Fuels represents one of the most significant investments in the north of England, providing substantial high quality employment in the region, both directly at Saltend and through the associated supply chain and British farming. E10 would provide greater stability for these jobs, skills and agriculture.”
Farms in the region which supplied the plant were directly affected by the shutdown, according to the Vivergo statement. The plant provides a market for their feed wheat that would have otherwise been exported at a lower price. In addition, Vivergo also supplies farms in the UK with high-protein animal feed. Without this feed supply, the farms would have no choice but to buy imported feed for their dairy heards.
The Vivergo news follows what seems to be a positive month for the UK’s bioethanol industry. A recent Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report found that despite overall biofuel consumption for transport being lower in 2017 than 2016, bioethanol consumption had actually increased by 0.6%.