Scotland’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant capable of turning oilseed rape into fuel for cars could be built in the north-east.
The firm behind £50million plans for a green-energy plant at Peterhead is in talks with a company interested in using the heat generated by the waste-to-energy facility to create biodiesel.
Buchan CHP (combined heat and power) wants to build a waste-to-energy plant at Upperton industrial estate.
The plant will generate heat and electricity by incinerating household and industrial rubbish.
The plant is estimated to take almost half the 262,500 tonnes of waste that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire sends to landfill each year, using the energy created to heat and power 10,000 homes and businesses.
Earlier this year, the P&J revealed the firm had been approached about setting up a hydrogen production plant nearby, which would also harness the heat produced by the waste incinerator.
It is hoped that such a move would bring hydrogen cars into widespread use for the first time in Scotland.
And this latest partnership could, subject to planning consent, result in the largest biodiesel plant of its kind being built in Scotland.
Glenn Jones, managing director of Buchan CHP, said: “With crude oil reaching prices of $120 a barrel, alt-ernative sustainable fuels are of great interest. Rape seed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, partly as it produces more oil per unit of land area compared with other oil sources, but also because fuel derived from high-quality rape seed does not require any modification of your car’s engine.”
The biodiesel plant proposed for Peterhead would be the first commercial operation creating fuel using just oilseed rape.
It would use the excess heat created to turn oil extracted from rape seed into biodiesel.
Dr Elaine Booth, industrial crops specialist at the Scottish Agricultural College, said: “We are heavily involved in various studies looking at the feasibility of biodiesel production using crops grown in the north-east.
“This area is very well placed to grow rape seed as we can grow large yields with a high oil content. Sadly, due to the environmental and transport costs involved in processing it, we haven’t been able to make best use of the resource to date.
“Heat forms a considerable part of the biodiesel process so utilising the energy produced by a plant such as the one proposed for Peterhead would give significant advantages for processing costs.”
The plans for the waste-to-energy plant were unveiled in February and have sparked concern among local environmental campaigners.