Construction of the UK and Europe’s largest bioethanol plant is progressing well and the plant is on schedule to start production in summer 2009, according to Ensus bioethanol plant’s technical director.

The £250m Ensus bioethanol plant at Wilton, Teesside, will take over one million tonnes of mainly home-grown feed wheat when fully operational, John Pinkney told a HGCA/ Renewable Energy Association conference this week.

“It’s at least the biggest wheat-to-ethanol plant in Europe, possibly in the world,” he said. “We’re getting close to completion and should start production in the summer.”

Once fully up and running, the plant will produce 410m litres of bioethanol a year, around 350,000 tonnes of distillers dry grains animal feed and 340,000t of CO2 for food and beverage use. Mr Pinkney said greenhouse gas savings from the bioethanol produced would be 53-87% over mineral oil.

He said the animal feed produced would be particularly useful for UK livestock farmers, who relied heavily on imported protein feeds, such as soya, the price of which was exposed to volatile world markets.

“The EU is the world’s largest importer of soy meal, buying around 35m tonnes each year. We should be able to displace some of that; we’re creating a new source of animal feed, increasing the sustainability of European meat production.”

Ensus has agreements in place with Glencore, who will supply the grain and take all animal feed; Shell, who will take all the ethanol produced; and Yara, who will utilise the CO2 produced.