En­ergy district plan in pipe­line

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - In Business - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @oliv­er­clayRWWN

ABID to trans­form a stretch of north Cheshire from Run­corn to Ellesmere Port into the na­tion’s first ‘En­ergy In­no­va­tion District’ with the cre­ation of 37,000 jobs and £7bn of in­vest­ment has be­gun.

The En­ergy In­no­va­tion District is ear­marked to be­come the first of its kind in the UK and project back­ers said it is an­tic­i­pated to stim­u­late £2.3bn of eco­nomic pro­duc­tiv­ity by project back­ers, by com­bin­ing the ex­per­tise of pro­duc­ers, en­er­gy­in­ten­sive man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­no­va­tors and aca­demics.

Es­tab­lished by in­dus­try trade as­so­ci­a­tion the Cheshire En­ergy Hub, the project spans in­dus­trial heart­lands be­tween west Run­corn and Ellesmere Port, which as a whole con­sume more than %5 of the UK’s en­ergy us­age.

A Cheshire En­ergy Hub spokes­woman said the main aim is to pro­vide se­cure, low-car­bon and low-cost indige­nous en­ergy from the North West to cre­ate more than 33,000 jobs and at­tract £7bn in cap­i­tal in­vest­ment.

A brochure ac­com­pa­ny­ing Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment said power sources in the scheme in­clude Frod­sham’s 57-megawatt (MW) wind farm, a 21MW biomass plant and 20MW gas-fired back-up ‘short term op­er­at­ing re­serve’ (STOR) fa­cil­ity.

It said 480 hectares of land will be de­vel­oped as part of the project.

En­ergy district goals in­clude de­vel­op­ing and us­ing the area’s as­sets to make the district home to ad­vances in en­ergy tech­nol­ogy such as heat net­works, low-car­bon trans­port, elec­tric­ity net­works, the hy­dro­gen econ­omy and mas­sive en­ergy stor­age in­clud­ing gas and hy­dro­gen in­fra­struc­ture.

De­tails of gas sourc­ing were yet to be pub­lished at the time of the an­nounce­ment and al­though it con­tained no ex­plicit ref­er­ence to frack­ing, the re­port did re­fer to ‘un­con­ven­tional gas ex­trac­tion’.

The hub spokes­woman said: “The En­ergy In­no­va­tion District is aimed at pro­mot­ing a broad en­ergy mix to de­car­bonise and lower the cost of en­ergy for the re­gion’s in­dus­tries and homes.

“From wind, biomass, en­ergy stor­age and ad­vances in the uses of hy­dro­gen, it seeks to fos­ter ad­vances within the sec­tor.

“It as­sumes that the way we use, con­sume and de­car­bonise nat­u­ral gas will con­tinue to play an im­por­tant part in the UK’s en­ergy sup­ply, but does not spec­u­late to the ● source.”

The hub spokes­woman said scheme lead­ers are now work­ing with the Gov­ern­ment to set a na­tional blue­print for how en­ergy and in­dus­try col­lab­o­rate, which could be repli­cated else­where in the UK.

Cheshire En­ergy Hub is now seek­ing back­ing for emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and ‘in­creased in­cen­tives’ and ‘im­prove­ments to reg­u­la­tory sys­tems’.

The hub’s mem­bers in­clude C-Tech In­no­va­tion, EA Tech­nol­ogy, En­circ, Es­sar Oil UK, Peel En­vi­ron­men­tal, Pro­tos, Storengy UK, URENCO, Cheshire & War­ring­ton Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship, Cheshire West And Ch­ester Coun­cil and The Univer­sity Of Ch­ester: Thorn­ton Science Park.

The district’s big­gest en­ergy con­sumers in­clude Inovyn in Run­corn, Es­sar’s Stan­low re­fin­ery, CF fer­tilis­ers, En­circ and URENCO,

Ged Bar­low, Cheshire En­ergy Hub chair­man and C-Tech In­no­va­tion managing di­rec­tor, said: “The En­ergy In­no­va­tion District is a Bri­tish first – a place where en­ergy gen­er­a­tors are work­ing handin-hand with busi­ness to at­tract in­vest­ment, boost pro­duc­tiv­ity and in­crease the com­pet­i­tive­ness of our in­dus­tries.

“It will be unique in that it will em­brace and develop new tech­nolo­gies across a range of gen­er­a­tion meth­ods and ac­tively ex­plore how this can di­rectly ben­e­fit in­dus­try.

“En­ergy us­age is at the bedrock of suc­cess­ful en­ter­prise and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

“We’re en­cour­aged by the Gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for in­te­gra­tion as part of the In­dus­trial Strat­egy and the District re­sponds di­rectly to this need for a more co-or­di­nated ap­proach.”

Chris­tine Gaskell, Cheshire & War­ring­ton Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship chair­woman, said: “En­ergy is in­creas­ingly a top pri­or­ity for busi­ness and Cheshire and War­ring­ton has some of the coun­try’s most en­ergy in­ten­sive busi­nesses.

“At the same time we have a strong set of en­ergy gen­er­a­tion as­sets and ex­per­tise with the likes of Thorn­ton Science Park, EA Tech­nolo­gies at Capen­hurst and the UK’s lead­ing nu­clear ser­vices clus­ter at Birch­wood which means that we are per­fectly placed to develop the UK’s first En­ergy In­no­va­tion District.

“The En­ergy In­no­va­tion District will put the re­gion at the fore­front na­tion­ally in en­sur­ing that we can pro­vide sta­ble, se­cure and af­ford­able en­ergy to busi­nesses in Cheshire and War­ring­ton, which is vi­tal to our con­tin­ued eco­nomic growth.”

The UK’s first En­ergy In­no­va­tion District has been launched in the North West and spans from Ellesmere Port to­wards Run­corn

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