The Vivergo plant has re-opened following a four-month shut-down period following unfavourable trading conditions; in part – according to the British company – “driven by Government inaction on the future of renewable fuels and current market conditions”. It was closed in November and has been conducting maintenance and upgrade work during the closed period.
Over the coming months, it is hoped that conditions will improve as a result of the RTFO being passed through Parliament in March. This will come into effect later this month, increasing the use of renewable fuels in transport from 4.75% to a target of 9.75% by 2020.
The bioethanol industry is now calling for the Government to introduce E10 fuel by the end of the year. E10 is a more environmentally friendly blend of 10% renewable bioethanol with petrol which can lower emissions from vehicles. It is commonly used across North America, Europe and Australasia and introducing it in the UK would be the carbon emissions savings equivalent to taking 700,000 cars off the road. In USA it represents 95% of petrol sales.
“We are pleased – Mark Chesworth, Managing Director of Vivergo Fuels, said – 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. 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.”
The restart of Vivergo’s plant is particularly welcome news for the agricultural community, as many farms in the region who supplied the plant were directly affected by the shutdown. In addition to providing a market for their feed wheat that would have otherwise been exported at a lower price, Vivergo supplies farms in the UK with high-protein animal feed, without which they would be required to buy imported feed for their dairy herds.
Vivergo Fuels plant in East Yorkshire is the UK’s largest, and Europe’s second largest producer of bioethanol, a low-carbon renewable transport fuel which is blended with petrol. The £350 million plant can produce up to 420 million litres of bioethanol and the bioethanol is made from 1.1 million tonnes of feed wheat, sourced from nearly 900 farms across the East Yorkshire region. It is also the country’s largest single production site for animal feed, delivering 500,000 tonnes of high protein feed to over 800 farms across the UK. Employing more than 150 skilled people at the production site in Hull and head office in Hessle; as well as supporting over 3,000 jobs directly and indirectly.