Construction begins on Scotland's first biodiesel plant (29.03.04)

Construction has begun on Scotland's first biodiesel plant, which will produce up to 50 million litres of the "green" fuel each year from waste cooking oil, once it opens in early 2005.

The plant at Newarthill, near Motherwell, will provide a recycling route for used cooking oils, saturated and unsaturated fats including those generated by the fast food and catering industries.

An artist's impression of the £15m biodiesel plant at Newarthill
Argent Energy, the company behind the £15 million plant, said it will also provide a solution to the forthcoming European ban on adding used cooking oils to animal feeds, which will come into force in 2005.

It should also be capable of converting animal fats (tallow) into biodiesel, providing a disposal route for this kind of agricultural waste.

Andy Hunter, director of Argent Energy, commented: "We are delighted that work has finally begun on the first biodiesel plant in Scotland, and possibly, the largest facility of its kind anywhere in the world.

"The plant will be capable of processing most used cooking oils and fats, whether saturated or unsaturated, into biodiesel, with expected output of 50 million litres per year," he said.

The plant should provide about 5% of Scotland's diesel needs, in a form that Mr Hunter said is "renewable, sustainable and environmentally friendly".

He explained: "Biodiesel has been proven to be less toxic than salt, and as biodegradable as sugar. What’s more it has the ability to be used on its own or mixed with mineral diesel and even improves fossil fuels’ biodegradability.”

The project has taken Argent Energy three years to secure, with funding for the plant provided by Bank of Scotland Corporate Banking. Argent Energy has also obtained a £2 million grant from the European Commission, which will go to research and development work on biodiesel and its co-products.

0This is an exciting initiative which can have benefits for both our environment and our economy.
- Jim Wallace, Scottish enterprise minister
Argent Energy, the company behind the Newarthill plant, has secured a Regional Selective Assistance Grant of £1.2 million from the Scottish Executive, and Scotland's enterprise minister Jim Wallace was on hand to oversee the beginning of construction last week.

Mr Wallace said: "I am delighted to see that work has begun on Argent Energy’s new biodiesel plant, and welcome this investment in Newarthill. This is an exciting initiative which can have benefits for both our environment and our economy.”

Construction on the plant is being undertaken by Mowlem under a £7 million contract, with the plant's technology provided by Austrian firm Biodiesel International (BDI).

Completion of the plant is expected in December 2004, with production beginning in Spring 2005

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