U.K.'s third wheat-based plant on way

By Luke Geiver | February 09, 2010
Posted March 10, 2010

Future Capital Partners (FCP), a green investment firm from the U.K., has acquired a site in Grimsby, Northeast England, to build a 44 MMgy ethanol plant. The wheat-based facility will be run by biofuels company Vireol. As one of only three commercial production facilities in the U.K., the Grimsby plant is something Vireol CEO Dave Knibbs thinks the country can excel at. "We should be leading the charge in Europe," Knibbs said, "not bringing up the rear."

Knibbs highlighted the region's ability to produce and utilize a wheat feedstock as an indication for future growth. "I think you could see some more plants here," Knibbs said. "We are the most efficient place to produce feed wheat in Europe, our yields are better than anyone else's and there is room for more growth (in yields)."

Tim Levy, CEO of FCP, described the biofuels industry and future construction of ethanol facilities as the next decade's most lucrative investment. The plant's off-take agreement to supply the CO2 coproduct to a major food and beverage supplier is also a major advantage for the plant's investors. "As well as being very proud of the positive environmental and social effects the project will have," Levy said, "it is the investment opportunity itself that is truly exciting." Ensus, a wheat based ethanol plant in Teeside, U.K., shipped the facility's first batch of ethanol in March. The Teeside plant also supplies a food and beverage manufacturer with the CO2 coproduct.

The construction phase of the Grimsby site will create 750 jobs for roughly two years, and secure 70 permanent jobs after completion of the plant. Knibbs said the refinery should come online in 2013, Britain's target date for obtaining 5 percent of its motor fuel from renewable sources. By 2020, the European Union has mandated that 10 percent of motor fuel must come from renewable sources. "This is a well thought out investment proposition put together by proven partners who have built and operated commercially functioning plants using proven technologies," Levy said. "E.U. environmental targets mean, simply, that everyday motorists will require the gas in their tanks to be blended with a greater proportion of bio-ethanol by 2016-2017."