Sugar beet trials in Scotland could pave way for new bioefinery

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The re-introduction of sugar beet production to Scotland – a move that could support national climate change targets - has taken a significant step forward after the pilot project laying its foundations received new funding.
With the first successful crop in half a century harvested earlier this year, the consortium behind the sugar beet initiative – which includes the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), SAC Consulting, and Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) – has secured a funding boost from Scottish Enterprise to analyse its potential environmental and economic impact.
The study will examine the widespread benefits that are expected to follow on from the crop’s return to Scotland.
Sugar beet is seen as a key building block for the development of sustainable supply chains and biofuels, which uses natural materials instead of petrochemical compounds in manufacturing.
A local source of sugar beet could pave the way for the development of an ethanol-producing biorefinery in Grangemouth – the hub of Scotland’s chemicals and petrochemical processing industries – and later support a fully functioning bio-based chemicals industry.
Ian Archer, technical director at IBioIC, said: “Growing sugar beet in Scotland once again is a huge opportunity to re-invent the economy, build sustainability into manufacturing supply chains, and secure jobs for the future.
“Many of the biggest consumer goods manufacturers have committed to net-zero carbon targets over the next two decades and a big part of that drive will be replacing the use of petrochemicals with natural materials.
Andrew Henderson of Scottish Enterprise’s advanced manufacturing team, added: “This is a hugely exciting project which could yield transformational outcomes for businesses.
“Our funding will help unlock a vital next step for this project to support sustainable fuel and chemicals production through biotechnology, and ultimately create new jobs and investment to strengthen communities across Scotland.”