‘Biorefining’ could be worth PS900m per year to Scottish economy, Scottish Enterprise says


Growth in seaweed and timber biorefinery could be crucial

HIGH value chemicals made from waste, known as ‘biorefining’, could grow from a PS200m per annum Scottish industry to PS900m by 2025.

According to a Scottish Enterprise report, ‘Biorefinery roadmap for Scotland’, published in January, “Biorefining offers Scottish companies the opportunity to build on existing expertise in order to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of industries.”

The Scottish research sector is well advanced, the report argued, with a particular strength in processing industrial and household waste, and potential for growth in seaweed biorefining, which can be used for energy or, more commonly, high-value chemicals.

Scottish Enterprise believes there is the potential for development of biorefining in the timber industry.

“At the moment Europe, and Norway in particular, leads the development of biorefineries based on forest products and Scotland is well-placed to import technology platforms or technology know-how via collaborative partnerships,” the report stated.

Ingenza, at Roslin near Edinburgh, uses bio-processing to produce chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and Managing director Ian Fotheringham told the BBC: “Scotland is uniquely blessed with abundant non-food biomass on land and under our seas.

“Together with our strong industrial biotechnology capabilities in both academia and industry, Scotland is well positioned to capitalise on the massive potential that biorefineries could contribute to the development of a more sustainable economy.”

Other small companies exist across Scotland, but Scottish Enterprise believes support needs to be given to biorefinery start-ups to speed up development, and wants to look at the role of the Scottish Investment Bank and Green Investment Bank in increasing funding.

Picture courtesy of Andrew “Bob” Brockhurst