Scotland’s biofuels industry took a step forward this week with confirmation of two new biofuels plants on the River Forth – but questions remain over fuelstock sources.
The £70m plant will be operational by 2008 and will supply about 35% of the UK’s biodiesel demand.
Meanwhile, planners have approved DMF Biodiesel’s proposed factory on the former Royal Navy dockyard at Rosyth. This plant is expected to crush up to 250,000t of rapeseed a year – nearly double the 130,000t grown in Scotland.
It will also generate 150,000t of rapemeal for the animal feeds market and about 4000t of pharmaceutical-grade glycerine.
Both plants’ demand for vegetable oils will far outweigh domestic production, suggesting the firms will have to import massive amounts of rapeseed.
NFU Scotland’s communications director, James Withers, said prospects for farmers looked extremely promising.
“We know the Rosyth plant will have a crushing facility, which suggests it will be a significant outlet for domestic rapeseed,” he said.
“And we are involved in discussions with DMF Biodiesel and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society to explore how a farmer consortium could not only supply, but have an equity stake in, the new plant.
“We will be holding meetings with farmers throughout the country. There is a real chance for farming to get some ownership at the start of this new industry, so that farmers don’t end up simply as price-takers.”