UK Government Subsidizes CO2 Supply

Oct. 11, 2021
Supplies of industrial carbon dioxide in the United Kingdom are temporarily assured after government intervention.

Supplies of industrial carbon dioxide in the United Kingdom are temporarily assured after government intervention.

British food manufacturers had been running out of carbon dioxide after two plants, which between them supply 60% of the nation’s industrial CO2, were shut down. The two plants are fertilizer factories, where CO2 is derived as a byproduct of ammonia production. They shut down because the rising cost of the natural gas needed for their operation made them unsustainable.

The British government agreed to give one of the plants enough of a subsidy to keep it operating for three weeks, which should maintain CO2 supplies through early next year. Even with the subsidy, food processors in Britain will be paying more for CO2, although it is unclear how much.

The situation caused concern across Britain because CO2 is needed for a variety of processes, including animal slaughter, meat processing, modified atmosphere packaging and beverage carbonation.

There was some criticism of the subsidy when it was announced, because the two plants are owned by CF Industries, an American company. Food industry spokespersons welcomed the secure supply, but expressed concern over higher prices. “The increased cost of buying CO2 is yet another burden on the food and drink industry, which is already facing enormous stresses,” the head of the Food and Drink Federation told the BBC.

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