There Goes The Exportable Surplus (And The Neighbourhood)

23/11/10 -- Give it a wave, there she goes, bless. At the rate we've been exporting wheat we should have just about hit our Defra target of 1.3 MMT for the entire 2010/11 marketing year by now, according to my calculations. From here on in we are eating into our 2 MMT of projected carryover. Indeed, at the current rate of exports that will also all be gone before a single field of UK wheat is combined next summer.

One can only hope that we won't approach the 2011/12 marketing year with such a gung-ho attitude to exports. We will, after all, have another hungry mouth to feed in the shape of Vivergo by then.

Further down the line we have little Vireol expected to arrive on the scene in 2013. Whereas Ensus and Vivergo are big strapping lads, consuming over a million tonnes each of our surplus wheat, Vireol is more like Tom Thumb. His little calipered legs mean he can only manage to get half as much down his neck before he's full.

So there you go, by 2013/14 we won't have an exportable surplus at all in the UK, not unless we ramp up wheat production that is. Still, at least we can all rest in our beds at night resplendent in the knowledge that the planet is safe. The three new arrivals will be churning out more bioethanol than we can shake a mucky stick at by then.

Well, not quite, by 2020 you see the UK is mandated to have 10% of it's motor fuel coming from renewable sources. That's around 6 billion litres of the sort of stuff that our mates at Ensus, Vivergo and Vireol will be manufacturing. The problem is at these rates of wheat consumption they only have a capacity to produce around one billion litres between the three of them

What? We will be using up 2.5 MMT plus of wheat annually to make just one sixth of our renewable fuel requirement? That's the way it looks from where I'm standing. So what's the alternative then? Build another fifteen similar sized bioethanol refineries by 2020 and use the entire UK wheat crop to make it? The entire east coast of England would be awash with refineries, and think of the smell. There would go the neighbourhood along with the exportable surplus.

Nah, we can't do that can we, here's the solution....we'll ship in what we can't manufacture ourselves from Brazil. That's right, we'll save the planet by cutting down the Brazilian rainforest to grow sugar cane to ship bioethanol to Europe in enormous great belching boats.

Erm, couldn't we just say that we've had a bit of a rethink and this renewable fuel mandatey thingy probably wasn't thought through properly and we've changed our minds? Nah, don't be silly, there's too much money riding on this one, press on as you were....