Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden Constituency undertook a visit to Vivergo as a part of her Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) Fellowship. Organised by Allan Rankine at BP, the visit to Vivergo tied in with Mrs Spelman’s learning objectives who is exploring the issue of sustainability across a variety of industries.
Vivergo Fuels is a biorefinery joint venture between AB Sugar, BP and DuPont that was founded in 2007 as a sustainable transport fuel and animal feed source for the future. The day began with Managing Director, Mark Chesworth giving the MP a tour of the £350m plant based at Saltend near Hull and providing an overview of how Vivergo operates and contributes to the sustainable energy and food markets. Vivergo is one of the largest bioethanol manufacturers in Europe, producing 420m litres annually at maximum capacity which is the equivalent of around 1/2 of the UK’s current bioethanol demand. Its design makes it the single largest source of animal protein in the country, feeding 340,000 dairy cows daily, or roughly 20% of the UK’s national dairy herd.
Mrs Spelman discussed the role that Vivergo performs in providing home-grown renewable fuel for the UK using non-food grains crops, as well as supporting sustainability by ensuring animal feed production. The tour was also an excellent opportunity for Mrs Spelman to discuss how Vivergo tackles some of the problems faced by the sector as a whole such as, training and development for young people, sourcing and the impact of legislation on the sector.
Discussions were also held with Vivergo senior staff members about the future of the sustainable energy and food sectors and what can be done to continue to encourage both the public and commercial sectors to embrace this growing technology.
The visit highlighted the importance of the sustainable fuel and food markets and the key role that Britain is playing in this rapidly growing industry in both production and research & development.
Mrs Spelman said: “What I saw at the Vivergo plant was biofuels ‘done well’. We do need to get better understanding that, when biofuels produce a sustainable outcome by generating both energy as well as animal feed, they are positive for the environment.
“This visit made me aware of the challenges of a global market where protectionist practices make it hard for companies like Vivergo to compete, so we must do what we can to tackle them.”