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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Green biodiesel production starts
The first lorry-load of biodiesel has left the Argent plant
Commercial production of green fuel at the UK's first large scale biodiesel plant has now started.

The first tanker-load of useable fuel, made from used cooking oil and animal fats, has been picked up from the Argent Energy plant at Motherwell.

It is expected that the green fuel will shortly be available at forecourts.

The news has been welcomed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling, and Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace.

The load is part of a contract between Argent Energy and Petroplus which could see up to 25,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year making its way to refineries in Grangemouth and in Teesside.

Once there, it will be blended with mineral diesel and marketed under the Bio-plus brand on filling station forecourts.

Expansion plans

Biodiesel requires no changes to the logistics of the fuel supply chain or to vehicle engines.

Hamish Curran, chief operating officer at Argent Energy, said it was a landmark day.

"Producing biodiesel from these raw materials at this scale has never been done before," he said.

"We've worked very hard to get this project off the drawing board and turn it into commercial reality."

Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide - the main gas responsible for global warming
Dr Stephen Thomason

Mr Curran added: "We are now focussed on getting the plant up to full production capacity and expect this to happen within the next few weeks.

"We are also developing plans for expansion and looking at the possibility of setting up at least two more plants in other parts of the UK."

Dr Stephen Thomason, of Petroplus, said test results on the product showed that it was good for engines and for the environment.

He said: "It improves engine lubrication, improves fuel efficiency, it burns more completely thereby reducing emissions and it's virtually sulphur free.

"Above all biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide - the main gas responsible for global warming."

An additional environmental benefit is that the use of used cooking oil and animal fats in producing biodiesel creates a demand for previously unwanted products, reducing the amount which has to be treated as waste and ultimately reducing pollution.

Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions

Welcoming the news that production of the green fuel in the UK has started, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister has frequently stressed his personal commitment to combating global warming and has made climate change one of his two priorities for the UK's presidency of the G8.

"Biofuels and biocrops have a potentially important role to play, and the prime minister is very glad to see production and marketing of these environmentally-friendly fuels taking place."

Transport Secretary Alastair Darling added: "This is an excellent example of a positive initiative which will bring real benefits to the environment and to the local economy.

"The government is keen to support the development of renewable, low carbon transport fuels and all the more so where these are produced in the UK, bringing benefits to the UK economy."

Mr Wallace said: "I visited Argent's plant at Motherwell last year and am delighted that this ambitious project is now under way.

"Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in the green economy of the future and to create jobs across a range of sectors, including recycling, renewable energy and the development and manufacture of cleaner technologies."

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