In early 2010 the Ensus Group enters full-scale production at Europe’s largest wheat-based ethanol plant.
The Ensus Group is building Europe’s largest wheat refinery at Wilton on Teesside in northeast England. When completed it will use locally grown animal feed wheat to produce over 400 million liters of bioethanol, 350,000 tons of high protein animal feed, and 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide for use in soft drinks and food production each year. Power will be supplied by a combined heat and power plant with surplus electricity used by other plants on the Wilton site.
According to an article in Ethanol Producer Magazine written by By Erin Voegele, the facility, which is owned by Ensus Ltd., is expected to enter full-scale production in January 2010. Voegele writes that Ensus chief executive Alwyn Hughes said the Wilton-based facility is currently in the commissioning stage, and is expected to enter full-scale production in Jan. 2010.
“A study recently completed by Ensus and published in the scientific journal Global Change Biology – Bioenergy highlights the potential for using idle EU farm land to reduce the demand for cropland outside Europe,” Voegele wrote. “According to the study, refining European wheat to produce ethanol and high protein animal feed will reduce the region’s growing demand for soy meal imports, which can help reduce pressure on the world’s threatened rainforests.”
Ensus chief executive Alwyn Hughes told Voegele that the high-protein distillers’ grains produced at Ensus’ facility will offset a significant portion of the soy currently imported into Europe. According to Hughes, most of this soy meal is currently imported from South America, where it is often grown on carbon rich or deforested land.
On its website, Ensus states explicitly: “The 350 thousand tons of high protein animal feed produced by the plant will reduce European demand for soy meal imports that contribute to high levels of deforestation in South America. The refinery has been designed according to strict sustainability criteria. Producing biofuels from protein crops such as animal feed wheat delivers greenhouse gas emission savings which more than cancel out the emissions of the fossil fuels they replace.”
Recently, attention has been focused on the impact of biofuels on food supply and deforestation. Ensus believes that only ‘good biofuels’ that can address these concerns should be used to meet Europe’s rising need for sustainable transport energy. The company believes that not all biofuels have this capacity.
According to Ensus, good biofuels meet four criteria: 1) food and fuel--neutral or positive impact on food supply; 2) indirect effects--neutral or positive impact on major carbon stocks and sinks (such as rainforest or ‘Cerrado’ grassland); 3) carbon footprint--significant contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction; 4) cost of carbon savings--value for money, offering significant GHG savings per unit cost.
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