21 June 2002

Forecourt debut for rape-blend biodiesel

By Jonathan Riley

A BIODIESEL blend made from oilseed rape has gone on sale at a UK garage for the first time.

The arrival of 6000 litres of biodiesel at Holbrook Garage, Stroud, Glos, prompted predictions of a massive increase in uptake of the fuel from Greenergy, the company which markets it.

Greenergy pioneered ultra low sulphur diesel 10 years ago which is now the industry standard for the 16m tonnes/year of diesel that is sold in Britain. Company spokeswoman Kate Hinton told farmers weekly that its 95% fossil fuel, 5% biofuel blend – GlobalDiesel – could be equally successful.

"The blend satisfies engine manufacturers requirements. That means a huge market already exists and yet it cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 5%."

Biodiesel currently has to be shipped in from France or Germany where the market is more developed. But Ms Hinton said Greenergy wanted to source rape from UK farmers.

"If 5% of the 16m tonnes of diesel sold was biodiesel that would require an 800,000t requirement for rape-based biodiesel. At a ratio of 3t of rapeseed to make 1t of biodiesel, that would require 2.5m tonnes of rape to be grown," Ms Hinton reckoned. That figure is roughly double the UKs current total output of oilseed rape.

She added: "It is possible to manage inputs to reduce emissions from the biodiesel still further. If we could work with UK farmers we could improve the crop quality. So working with UK producers could improve the value of the crop to us and for the right crops we could match the price of food-use rape crops."

Robin Twizell, managing director of the farmer-controlled energy company Renewable Energy From Agriculture (REFA), was also bullish about the prospects for biodiesel. "The first sale of biodiesel in this country will be a landmark and with the 20p reduction in tax on biodiesel coming into play from July its time for farmers to attack this market now."

Meanwhile, the first customer to fill up at the Holbrook Garage was arable farmer Stephen Watkins, who said that biodiesel production was a fantastic opportunity for farmers.

"Its not the answer to all of our problems but the product delivers to the environment and helps farmers.

"I hope the government will work together with us on this and cut tax on biodiesel by another 20p. Its an opportunity for Tony Blair to extend his hand to help us out of the quagmire.

"At 78.4p/litre, the 95% fossil fuel 5% biodiesel blend was 3p dearer than conventional diesel and there was no effect on acceleration," he reported.

Garage owner and alternative energy proponent Roger Budgeon said the economics of selling diesel were workable. But getting a further 20p tax cut to bring the taxation of biodiesel in line with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) would give the biofuel industry a further boost. &#42

Pump priming the market… Arable farmer Stephen Watkins (right) holds rapeseed while Greenergys Andrew Owens fills the first tank with the finished product.

You can help convince your MP

There has been a sharp rise in the number of MPs pushing for a further reduction in tax on biofuels.

farmers weekly and the British Association of Biofuels and Oils are backing Paul Tipping MP and his Early Day Motion which calls for a debate on cutting tax levels for biofuels by another 20p/litre. The number of MPs that have now signed up to the EDM has more than doubled in a week to 74. The more MPs that sign up to the EDM the more likely the government will take action. So please play your part in this developing industry by signing the form below and sending it to your MP.

Dear …………………………………………………………………………………. MP

As my MP, I urge you to support the EDM Motion No 1385 as I believe a UK biodiesel and bioethanol industry offers substantial benefits to both the environment and the rural economy.

Signed …………………………………………………………………………………….

Address …………………………………………………………………………………..

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