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Largest UK bio-refinery is officially opened in Hull

Release date:
8 July 2013

The £350 million Vivergo bioethanol plant in Hull was officially opened today by the Rt. Hon Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The new plant is the UK’s biggest bioethanol producer and largest single-source supplier of animal feed providing valuable commodities that the UK would usually import.

The Vivergo plant, 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 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.

Vivergo’s bioethanol 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.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: "Energy is critical for the UK's growth prospects. As part of the Government's industrial strategy we are working closely with industry, including the energy sector, on long term plans to develop stronger supply chains, encourage future billions of investment, secure thousands of jobs, support skills and research and development.

"Vivergo is a good example of how joint ventures, using the financial support and expertise of big companies, can not only create local jobs but also help meet the energy security and fuel demands of our country and support local farmers."

David Richards, Managing Director of Vivergo, said: “Our business is a great example of sustainable economic growth, ensuring that valuable commodities such as bioethanol and animal feed which ordinarily would have been imported are produced here in the UK.  We are proud to be the first major renewables investment to become operational in the Humber region, cementing its position as the UK’s Energy Estuary. We can already see the evidence of the sustained legacy our business will have locally, through the highly skilled jobs created and the £60m we’ve contributed so far though our supplier contracts.  

“Our location right on the Humber is ideal; we’re at the heart of the UK’s wheat belt which offers some of the best yields in the world, and our channels for distributing the bioethanol either by ship or by road to depots where it is blended with petrol, are second to none,” he added.  

The Vivergo plant is a brownfield re-development project built on a 25 acre site within the Saltend Chemicals Park near Hull.

Now operational, the plant employs around 80 full time highly skilled people and is estimated to support over a thousand additional jobs through its supply chain. Wherever possible, Vivergo is committed to employing local people.  Working in collaboration with JobCentre Plus, local authorities and training providers, a recruitment programme was created gto give a number of unemployed people training and on-the-job experience of working with Vivergo. Six of them have been offered permanent roles and now operate state of the art biofuel production techniques at this world-scale plant.

Dr Mark Carr, Group Chief Executive, AB Sugar, said: “We are proud to be supporting this world-scale bioethanol facility in Hull.  This highly efficient plant will significantly contribute to the production of food and fuel in a sustainable way, the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets and the UK economy and growth, particularly in the Humber area.”

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.”

James C. Collins, President of DuPont Industrial Biosciences said: “While the demand for transportation energy will continue to grow, the supply of affordable petroleum will not. To meet the needs of a growing population, we need to use existing resources more effectively and find better ways to harness renewable energy sources, like those that come from agriculture.  Vivergo brings just such innovation to the marketplace in both the fields of energy and animal nutrition.  We are proud to partner with BP and AB Sugar to bring state-of-the-art science and technology online.”

Further information




BP Group Press Office, Sheila Williams, 0207 496 4076, sheila.williams@uk.bp.com

About Vivergo Fuels:


Vivergo Fuels was formed in 2007 as a biorefinery for the future. As a joint venture between AB Sugar, BP and DuPont, this new £350m business will have the capacity to deliver about a third of the UK’s current bioethanol demand for petrol once fully operational.

Vivergo’s process uses 1.1 million tonnes of UK feed-grade wheat which is converted into the bioethanol and animal feed products. Once fully operational, the company will be one of the largest bioethanol producers in Europe, producing 420 million litres per year, and the largest single source supplier of animal feed in the UK, producing 500,000 tonnes each year.

Vivergo’s bioethanol offers Greenhouse Gas (GHG) savings in excess of 50% over standard petrol, the equivalent of removing 180,000 cars from the road annually. Its animal feed production provides the protein requirement for almost 20% of the national dairy herd.

Vivergo Fuels has created around 80 permanent, full-time, highly skilled jobs and will support a further 1000 plus jobs.

For further information, please visit: www.vivergofuels.com

About AB Sugar:


AB Sugar is an advanced and sustainable manufacturer and is one of the world’s leading sugar businesses, supplying an ever increasing range of both sugar and non-sugar products, employing more than 42,000 employees, operating in 10 countries and producing around 5 million tonnes of sugar annually. AB Sugar has moved far beyond sugar by expanding the range of co-products we produce, including animal feed, soil conditioning and landscaping products, electricity and even tomatoes.  The Group is also involved in the developing bioethanol industry and in seed coating and enhancement technology. AB Sugar is a wholly owned subsidiary of international food ingredients and retail group, Associated British Foods plc (ABF).  

For more information on AB Sugar, please visit: www.absugar.com

About BP

BP is of one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies. We operate or market our products in more than 80 countries, employ over 85,000 people and provide our customers with fuel for transportation energy for heating and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. Our interests and activities are covered in two business segments: Upstream and Downstream activities include oil and natural gas exploration; field development; hydrocarbon transportation, storage and processing; and the marketing and trading of natural gas including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Downstream’s activities involve the supply and trading, refining, manufacturing, marketing and transportation of crude oil, petroleum and petrochemicals products. 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. The company 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.

For more information about BP visit: www.bp.com

About DuPont:


DuPont Industrial Biosciences works with customers across a wide range of industries to improve products and make processes more sustainable. Through a unique combination of capabilities in agriculture, biotechnology, chemistry and material science, the organization focuses on providing biobased solutions to meet the needs of a growing population while protecting our environment.  DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802.  The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment.  

For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit www.dupont.com