Wheat prices unlikely to affect bioethanol plant - Oh really

From that bastion of knowledge the Darlington & Stockton Times, it seems like it's good news all round:

The region's first bioethanol plant is on schedule to start production early next year.

John Pinkney, technical director of Ensus, told farmers that building work was going well at Wilton on Teesside.

The plant will use 1m tonnes of wheat a year to produce 400m litres of ethanol for Shell and about 400,000 tonnes of high protein animal feed by-product.

The site is on target to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2009 and in full production by the middle of the year.

Mr Pinkney told the NFU's North-East regional livestock board that he did not believe today's high wheat prices of about £190 a tonne would affect their plans.

He said: "We don't expect the price will be the same when we open, our expectation is that the price will have fallen back."

However, he was relieved that funding for the project had been raised before today's financial volatility which has led to the mothballing of some plants in Europe.

Mr Pinkney said the animal feed by-product was "a very important part of the package", which many had forgotten about. (But not astute people like you Mr Pinkney eh - Nogger).

Only one-third of the crop - the sugars and starches - is used in ethanol production. Another third produces carbon dioxide, which is captured and used as a co-product, and the final third is turned into distilled dried grains plus solubles (DDGS) - the high-protein animal feed.

Most of the DDGS would be dried but some wet product may be available to local farmers.

The DDGS would not only provide a valuable feed, but could also replace a large amount of soya, which is currently imported from South America and Brazil.

That in turn could reduce the amount of forest clearance in those countries and relieve pressure on land elsewhere.

The DDGS would be available from April next year and is expected to cost between £185 to £225 a tonne - it is always likely to lie between the cost of wheat and soya.

Footnote: Thanks for explaining that for us Mr Pinkney. Despite the fact that your new factory adds 1mmt of extra demand for wheat in what isn't, lets face it, the hot-bed of UK wheat production, you expect the price to fall back. Meanwhile you expect the price of the by-product to hold up well in, lets face it, what is not the hot-bed of the UK livestock industry. An industry that is contracting by the minute.

Right then, who would like to tender to take some of these distillers grains at around £200/tonne for 12 months hence? Come on, we've only got 400,000mt to sell then that's yer lot. It's got to be done via a tender because we'll be inundated with demand. And don't forget soya prices will be the same then, Mr Pinkney has already told you that. And by buying them you will be saving the Brazilian rainforest to boot. Hello, this line seems to have gone dead...