Chinese back £1bn green power station

A biomass energy park in Holyhead is among the recipients of Chinese investment announced today during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK.

Chester-based Orthios Eco Parks’ food and power concept has attracted a £2bn investment to deliver proposals for two UK sites in the next three years.

The investor, SinoFortone Group, a Chinese private development company, with the support of the Chinese State, has seen the potential to replicate the Orthios technology for the production of electricity and high value foods. Together they will develop the UK sites at Holyhead and Port Talbot and replicate the Orthios Combined Food and Power solution throughout China and eventually, in the developing nations of the world.

Dr Peter Zhang, chief executive of SinoFortone Group, said: “We were impressed with the Orthios professional team and how much research and development they have invested in their unique Combined Food and Power solution. Orthios have developed a modular, efficient and scalable deliverable solution for food and power production. With us and the Chinese State as their backers we are confident we can maximize efficiencies and provide a production facility to deliver this solution around the world. Orthios and SinoFortone are ready to commence the developments now and have planning permissions in place for the projects in two very strategic UK port locations. We see this as a ground changing model that many countries will benefit from and are delighted to be teamed with the Orthios team.”

The initial concept for the Orthios Eco Parks model was sketched out ten years ago by the two original founders, architect Sean McCormick and Lewis LeVasseur, an engineer. Over the last 18 months with their team and the Chinese input a cohesive engineering solution has been developed; one that has improved the efficiency of the production of electricity and the use of the waste heat and carbon dioxide to enhance the growth of fish and vegetables.

It also has positive implications for climate change by carbon sequestration as a bi product of the process and the potential for reduction in food miles by not having to import some food products.

The Orthios team has designed their first Eco Park to sit on the former Anglesey Aluminium site at Holyhead. Working with Rio Tinto’s Legacy Company they have approval for a 299MWe Biomass fuelled energy centre and will develop the Eco Park for the production of sustainable fish and vegetables production in large on land facilities that will sit adjacent to the groups energy centre.

Julian Sandbach, director at JLL, the property consultant advising Rio Tinto, said: “Since we began work on this project in 2009, Rio Tinto’s priority has been to ensure the economic sustainability of the site by enabling a development that will have a positive impact on the local area. This investment represents a major milestone in delivering that legacy and will bring forward a redevelopment that has economic benefits and job creation at its heart.”

The Eco Parks design and development on Anglesey, has been a unique collaboration between an innovative development team in addition to a unique combination of an informed seller, with a drive and desire to leave a lasting legacy, following the closure of their former aluminium production facility on the island.

Brian King, director of Anglesey Aluminium, said: “Rio Tinto set out to provide a legacy for the local community and with the proposed Eco Park from Orthios with the backing of their Chinese partners, we look forward to the works commencing imminently and hope that over 500 long term jobs will be created promoting economic activity across Anglesey and Wales.”

Knutsford-based asset management firm, Best International, advised Orthios Eco Parks.

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