SUGAR beet farming and processing could support thousands of jobs in Scotland, a new report has found.

The study funded by Scottish Enterprise and produced by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) found that at least 815 jobs could be directly created by moving towards domestically produced bioethanol as a sustainable feedstock for manufacturing, along with hundreds more through associated supply chain and logistics services.

Sugar extracted from sugar beet can be used in the production of ethanol as a substitute for petroleum-based chemicals used in a range of household goods, as well as antibiotics, therapeutic proteins, and for transportation.

HeraldScotland: Sugar Beet growing could create new jobs.Sugar Beet growing could create new jobs.

It is claimed the project would also safeguard many of the 11,000 jobs in Scotland’s chemicals industry, which is increasingly moving towards alternatives to fossil fuels, and create new roles in the biotechnology sector.

The report found that switching to a local supply of bioethanol, rather than relying on importing it from Europe as Scotland currently does, could significantly reduce the country’s carbon footprint by more than 280,000 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking nearly 61,000 cars off the road per year.

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

HeraldScotland:

Mark Bustard, chief executive at IBioIC, said: “Bio-based production is the future of manufacturing in a net-zero Scotland and sugar beet is at the core of Scotland’s opportunity to develop a sustainable feedstock and compete on the global stage. Not only could it safeguard many of the thousands of jobs in our existing chemicals sector, but it could create hundreds more through new opportunities and manufacturing methods.

“It is up to us now to take this first step towards a more environmentally friendly and future-proofed manufacturing supply chain, at the heart of a bioeconomy.”

Ivan McKee, Scottish Trade Minister, said: “When managed carefully, renewable resources offer a potential pathway to transform our manufacturing sector and create new value chains for bio-based (biological) products in the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Linda Hanna, managing director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scottish Enterprise stands ready and is keen to work with pioneers in agriculture, manufacturing, and biotechnology as they consider how they collaborate and innovate to take opportunities to market.”