Producing bioethanol from sugar beet aids Scotland’s net zero goals


United Kingdom According to a study funded by Scottish Enterprise and produced by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), growing sugar beet in Scotland and processing the crop at a purpose-built biorefinery facility initially producing bioethanol could support thousands of jobs and make a significant contribution to the country’s net zero ambitions.

According to the report, shifting to domestically produced bioethanol as a sustainable feedstock for manufacturing could directly create at least 815 jobs, with hundreds more created through associated supply chain and logistics services. Sugar extracted from sugar beets can be used to make ethanol, which is a natural and sustainable alternative to petroleum-based chemicals used in a variety of household goods, antibiotics, therapeutic proteins, and transportation.

Such a project would also protect many of Scotland’s 11,000 jobs in the chemicals industry, which is increasingly shifting away from fossil fuels, and create new jobs in the burgeoning biotechnology sector, many of which would likely be in rural and deprived areas.

Switching to a local supply of bioethanol instead of importing it from Europe, as Scotland currently does, could reduce the country’s carbon footprint by more than 280,000 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of removing nearly 61,000 cars from the road each year.

The research builds on crop trials conducted in 2020, which revealed that Scotland can grow sugar beet with competitive yields. According to the IBioIC report, the initial goal is to grow 1 million tonnes of sugar beets per year, which could produce 110 million litres of bioethanol per year – roughly 75 percent of Scotland’s current transportation needs.

Dundee, because of its proximity to suitable agricultural land, and Grangemouth, because of its access to power generation, water treatment, a major port, and the presence of chemicals companies, have also been identified as ideal locations for a bioethanol plant in the report.