U.K. oilseed, biodiesel plants move forward

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 16, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 8, 2008 at 9:50 a.m. CST

Flex Fuels Energy Ltd. is moving forward on plans to build an oilseed-crushing plant and adjacent biodiesel plant in Cardiff, South Wales. The company is considering three proposals from prospective engineering, procurement and construction companies; it expects to announce its decision later this month.

Flex Fuels Energy has full local planning authority consent on the seed processing plant, according to Brian Barrows, Flex Fuels Energy chief executive officer. Final permits for the solvent phase of the crushing plant, plus full planning consent on the biodiesel plant will require design details to be determined in the next three months, he added.

With food-grade rapeseed oil demand forecast to stay high along with demand from the feed sector for sustainably produced meal, the company expects the oilseed processing plant can operate as a stand-alone unit. "The precise timing of construction of a biodiesel plant at the site, is being kept under close review," the company reported, citing the impact of the "Gallagher Review on the Indirect Effects of Biofuels Production" (published in July 2008), and the continuing distortion of the biodiesel market which the company blames upon "splash and dash" export credits operating in the United States. The company anticipates that in another year there will be greater certainty in the U.K. and European biofuels market.

Flex Fuels Energy plans to build a 200,000 metric ton per year (60 MMgy) biodiesel plant using rapeseed as the major feedstock blended with 20 percent soybean oil. "We will continue to monitor developments related to sustainability and carbon score, and will adjust our blend specification to reflect this," Barrows said. "We believe a key driver for long-term sustainability here in the U.K. and Europe will be the carbon balances." The need for traceability and management of the feedstock supply chain will favor indigenous feedstocks, he suggested. "Our vision has always been a farm to fuel strategy bringing the supply chain closer to the output through vertical integration," Barrows said.
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