More than 1,000 farmers have now signed up to supply more than 200,000 tonnes of wheat to the Vivergo bioethanol plant near Hull.
The site, which will take 1.1m tonnes of wheat annually at full capacity, was due to begin production this year, but a dispute with the main contractor in the spring delayed commissioning until next year.
“We don’t know the exact start date, but we’re looking at being operational some time in quarter one,” said Jon Duffy, trading director at Frontier, which will supply the site through its Humber Gold club.
A large number of the farmers that had signed up so far were in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, relatively close to the plant, but there were several from further afield, up to an 85-mile radius, he said.
Mr Duffy was confident the issues that led to the temporary shutdown of the Ensus bioethanol plant on Teesside – namely low ethanol prices and delayed implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive – would be resolved by the time Vivergo came on stream.
To be eligible to supply the Humber Gold club, farmers must commit to supply at least 120 tonnes (four lorry loads) of wheat. Mr Duffy said growers were also required to evaluate the “carbon score” of their crop production by recording factors such as yield, the amount and type of fertiliser applied, plus any drying used on the crop.
“Bioethanol plants have to show substantial greenhouse gas savings over normal fuels right through the chain. At the moment we’re just trying to capture the main factors.”