BOSSES behind the revival of a mothballed £250m North-East bioethanol factory say the plant has spearheaded a rise in work.
CropEnergies AG bought the Ensus refinery, in Wilton, near Redcar, last year, pumping £50m into the site.
The company has now revealed the move helped increase overall production and expects the factory to contribute to bolstering revenues by about 20 per cent.
The stability represents a major boost for Ensus' 100-strong workforce at its sites in Wilton and Yarm, who were retained on full pay during three breaks of operations inside three years when poor harvests and rising energy costs hit previous owners.
The German firm, one Europe's largest bioethanol producers, restarted work in September, unveiling major investment plans for the factory, which is regarded as a key part of the UK meeting renewable fuel targets.
Bosses say Ensus helped increase total bioethanol production to 626,000 cubic metres between March and November, compared to 597,000 in the same period in 2012, despite one of its German plants being affected by flooding.
The North-East factory uses wheat to create bioethanol, which is added to petrol by breaking down starch in grains to sugars, that are fermented into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The remaining protein and grain is used to make thousands of tonnes of feed for pigs and cattle and carbon dioxide for the soft drinks and food market every year.
A report said: “By acquiring Ensus, the firm has increased its annual production capacity to 1.2 million cubic metres of bioethanol and is now one of the leading European bioethanol producers.
“Production between March and November was five per cent more, and the loss of production in Zeitz, in Germany, was largely offset by high capacity work.
“The increase in production was the result of the successful start of production of Ensus.
“In the 2013-2014 financial year, the company intends to further strengthen its market position and production and sales volumes are expected to be significantly higher owing to the acquisition of Ensus.”
North-East MEP Fiona Hall, who previously worked with fellow MEP Stephen Hughes and Liberal Democrat Redcar MP Ian Swales to get the factory re-opened, said she was delighted with its progress.
She told The Northern Echo: “This very welcome news underlines the great potential of the plant.
“The staff and management have faced a turbulent few years and I’m pleased to see their hard work being recognised by the new owners.
“Despite falling bioethanol prices, Ensus is a growing success.
“Having secured a more stable footing, I’m optimistic we will see the plant continue to flourish.”