Cheshire sets out stall in energy sector

Energy and property businesses have combined to brand a range of assets from Ellesmere Port to Runcorn, along with sites capable of welcoming further development, as the Energy Innovation District.

The district has been established by the Cheshire Energy Hub, whose members include C-Tech Innovation, EA Technology, Encirc, Essar Oil UK, Peel Environmental, Protos, Storengy UK, and URENCO, together with the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.

The overarching aim of this clustering of assets is to provide secure, low-carbon and low-cost indigenous energy from the North West, unlocking over 33,000 jobs and £7bn in capital investment. Close to 1,200 acres of development land is available within its scope.

The district includes:

  • Storengy UK Underground Gas Storage Site: Storengy UK has invested £350m and is committing a further £150m to double the size of its facility to develop the largest onshore gas storage facility in the UK
  • Protos: £170m has been invested in enabling infrastructure and energy generation, including a 21MW biomass facility and a 57MW wind farm
  • Essar Oil (UK) Ltd: the Stanlow manufacturing complex produces 16% of the UK’s transport fuels, employing more than 900 people
  • Encirc: the contract bottling facility is the largest of its kind in Europe and produces container glass for the food and beverage industry, employing more than 300 people
  • URENCO UK: uses centrifuge technology to provide uranium enrichment services to generate low carbon nuclear energy, employing more than 300 people
  • CF Fertilisers: the UK head office and manufacturing plant of a business that procides more than 1m tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser to support grass and arable farming across the UK, employing more than 400 people
  • Thornton Science Park – the University of Chester has created a £17m Intelligent Energy Systems Demonstrator
  • Capenhurst Technology Park: owned by URENCO, the park is a centre for technology and energy-focused enterprises, including C-Tech Innovation, EA Technology, Enrichment Technology Ltd and Flowgroup plc

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

“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 coordinated approach.”

The partners will seek to make advances in areas such as heat networks, low-carbon transport, electricity networks, the hydrogen economy and energy storage and said they are working with government to establish a national blueprint for how energy and industry work together.

Christine Gaskell, chairman of Cheshire & Warrington LEP, said: “Energy is increasingly a top priority for business. We have a strong set of energy generation assets and expertise which means that we are perfectly placed to develop the UK’s first Energy Innovation District.

“This will put the region at the forefront nationally in ensuring that we can provide stable, secure and affordable energy to businesses.”

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Excellent news and great step forward for the North West and nearside North Wales commerce.

By Anthony Bamford

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