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Who’s who in the UK alternative fuel sector

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Financial Times: Who’s who in the UK alternative fuel sector

By Ed Crooks, Energy Editor
Published: May 2 2008 03:00 | Last updated: May 2 2008 03:00


BIOFUELS CORPORATION Based in Teesside, Biofuels owns Britain’s biggest bio-diesel plant, with a capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year. The shares fell from more than £3 in 2005 to 1.5p last August, when it de-listed from the Aim stock market. In March it said it was focusing on glycerine refining.

D1 OILS Shares of D1 have collapsed from 450p in 2005 to 25.75p yesterday and it is consulting on the future of its plants on Teesside and on Merseyside, which it said yesterday were “most likely”to be closed, leaving it with just 10 UK workers. However, D1’s business is based not on refining but on biofuels production from jatropha, a hardy plant that can grow in land not suitable for agriculture and thus should avoid concerns about biofuels competing with food production. The potential of jatropha has attracted BP, which last year entered a joint venture with D1.

GREENERGY Has a 100,000 tonne per year plant at Immingham on Humberside, with an expansion to double that being commissioned. Privately owned, Greenergy had profits of £18.2m ($36m, €23m) on turnover of £1.2bn in the year to March 2007. Its greatest success has come as a fuel distributor: it has approximately 10 per cent of the UK road fuel market and supplies more than half the biofuel sold in the country.

ARGENT Britain’s first large-scale biodiesel producer and arguably its most environmentally beneficial because it uses waste animal fats and cooking oil. Industry sources suggest it has best resisted cheaper foreign imports.


ENSUS The first to begin work on a large-scale ethanol plant in the UK, Ensus expects to have its 320,000-tonne refinery on Teesside in operation by early next year, using wheat as its main feed-stock. Last year it received private equity investment from Carlyle and Riverstone, where Lord Browne, former chief excutive of BP, now runs the European operation. Sir Rob Margetts, chairman of Ensus, holds the same role at Legal & General.

ETHANOL VENTURES Also private equity-backed, Ethanol Ventures is teaming up with Vireol to build two plants – in Grimsby and Teesside – with a total capacity of about 330,000 tonnes. Construction is expected to begin in September. Ethanol Ventures also plans to use mainly wheat, arguing there will be sufficient supplies in Europe and that wheat-based ethanol offers substantial CO 2 reductions compared with petrol.

ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS ABF’s British Sugar subsidiary produces ethanol on a relatively small scale from sugar beet at a plant in Norfolk. The Renewable Energy Association, the industry body, says CO 2 emissions savings from using sugar beet are almost as great as those from sugar cane. ABF is also joining in the much larger plant proposed for Humberside in a joint venture with BP and DuPont.

BP The biggest company to plan investment in ethanol production in Britain, BP surprised many last year with its joint venture to build a large wheat ethanol plant. Royal Dutch Shell, its leading rival, has largely steered clear of “first generation” biofuels such as wheat and corn-based ethanol. BP says the fuel it produces will cut emissions significantly, and the site will also be used for research and development of more advanced biofuels. Construction is expected to start later this year.

ABENGOA A Spanish company and Europe’s biggest biofuels producer, Abengoa has proposed a 320,000-tonne ethanol plant for Immingham on Humberside.

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