UK’s largest bio-refinery opened

Bioethanol plant animation

Meeting demand for cleaner fuels

The new £350 million Vivergo bioethanol plant in Hull, a joint venture between AB Sugar, BP and DuPont, will produce 420 million litres of bioethanol a year at full capacity, equivalent to a third of the UK’s current demand.

Bioethanol is a renewable transport fuel which is added to petrol. Vivergo’s bioethanol, made from wheat, will offer greenhouse gas savings in excess of 50% over standard petrol; this is equivalent to the current emissions of more than 180,000 UK cars a year.

Vivergo will also produce 500,000 tonnes a year of protein-rich animal feed for the UK market, which is sufficient to feed around a fifth of the UK’s dairy herd.

Using animal feed grade wheat, which previously would have been exported, Vivergo will become the UK’s biggest wheat buyer, taking 1.1 million tonnes a year. The company’s aspiration is to source its wheat primarily from farms in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The plant employs around 80 full time highly skilled people and is estimated to support over a thousand additional jobs through its supply chain.

Phillip New, BP’s Vice President for Alternative Energy, said: “The start-up of the plant is important to the UK, environmentally, socially and economically. Vivergo is one of Europe’s most sophisticated ethanol plants – and it is a great example of today’s biofuel technology turning the starch from wheat into ethanol and producing high-quality animal feed as a co-product.”

The plant was opened by the Rt. Hon Vince Cable MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.  He said: “Vivergo is a good example of how joint ventures, using the financial support and expertise of big companies, can not only help create local jobs but help meet the energy security and fuel demands of our country and support local farmers.”   

Since 2006, BP has announced investments of more than US$2 billion in biofuels research, development and operations, and has announced investments in production facilities in Europe, Brazil and the US.

BP has a global biofuels technology centre, located in San Diego in the US and is investing $500 million over 10 years in the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), at which biotechnologists are investigating applications of biotechnology to energy.