Ensus still hopeful of reopening Wilton biofuels plant
14 Feb 2012
London – Ensus has dismissed reports that it is about to permanently close its biofuels plant at Wilton, which has now been in shutdown mode for almost a year.
US imports and regulatory delays last May forced Ensus to halt the bioethanol plant at Wilton on Teesside, in north-east England. The £250-million unit – one of the world’s largest grain biorefineries – has around 100 employees, who are reportedly being retained on full pay.
The outlook for the facility has “improved slightly” since Ensus last commented on the situation three months ago, a spokesman said in a 13 Feb written statement.
Last November, the company reported some ’encouraging, though slow, progress’ on the issues that led it to bring the bio-refinery off line. However, union officials have since voiced concerns that the Wilton plant might never reopen – as reported recently by the BBC.
According to Ensus the main issues at Wilton are: Slow implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive; Delays to the approval of Voluntary Sustainability Schemes; US imports that benefit from a tax credit from the US government and take advantage of loopholes in EU import legislation to avoid established tariffs
“The recent action taken by the EU to address the tariff loophole is positive and it is anticipated that this will benefit the industry from its introduction some time in Q1 2012,” the company stated.
Ensus added that it remains confident in the future of the business longer term, but is frustrated by the slow development of the market..
According to Ensus, the regulatory delays have created market uncertainty for European producers, while the European bioethanol market has continued to draw in biofuel imports, primarily from the US.
US imports, argues Ensus, take advantage of loopholes in EU import legislation to avoid established tariffs, bringing bioethanol of uncertain origin and sustainability into the European market
The Ensus facility started commercial operations in March 2010. It has capacity for up to 450 million litres of bioethanol a year from about one million tonnes of feed wheat, and also to produce 350,000t/yr of animal feed.
Annual production of the Ensus biorefinery is expected to meet about a third of the UK requirement under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, which requires 3.5% of all transport fuel to come from biofuels.