UK company Ensus is restarting its £300 million bioethanol plant on Teesside – Europe’s largest bio-refinery – in late August, following a 15-month enforced shutdown. After several months delay, the European Union’s Customs Code Committee has now acted to close the loophole in the tariff system that allowed imports of subsidised US product to distort the market. This, together with the ending of US taxpayer subsidies for ethanol, has been a major factor in the improvement of market conditions and Ensus is confident in its plans for a restart.
Ensus employs around 100 people directly who have been kept on full pay throughout the shutdown and also supports over 2000 jobs in the wider supply chain. General engineering and maintenance activities have been taking place for several weeks and it is expected that the plant will be at full rates of operation within the next two months.
Ensus will continue to play an important part in the greening of Britain’s road fuels and food supplies. The Teesside bio-refinery is designed to convert more than 1 million tonnes of animal grade wheat into roughly equal amounts of fuel grade alcohol, high protein animal feed and carbon dioxide using a process of distillation and fermentation.
The ethanol is blended with petrol to create greener road fuel whilst UK and European farmers use the high protein wheat residue from the process as animal feed preventing the need for imports of high protein feeds from countries producing it in a less sustainable manner. Carbon dioxide from the process is used in the UK and European food and drinks industry. Ensus, a start up company, began its operations in 2010.