The Government has stumped up £700,000 to help deliver a low-carbon smart energy system at Ellesmere Port, touted as a blueprint for creating cheaper, cleaner energy for power, heating and transport across the UK.
The initiative, called E-Port Net Zero, is being led by Cheshire Energy Hub, the sub-regional arm of Net Zero North West, an industry collective working to develop the UK’s first low-carbon industrial cluster at Ellesmore Port by 2030.
Members of the Cheshire Energy Hub include energy and infrastructure firms Peel Environmental (part of landowner Peel Group), Burns & McDonnell, EA Technology, Engie, Essar Oil UK, Protos, Storengy UK, Tata Chemical and others, together with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.
The E-Port initiative will aim to reduce the carbon footprint of the carbon-intensive industrial heartland of Ellesmere Port, which consumes around 5% of the UK’s energy because of its large manufacturers based there – working in oil refining, glass, nuclear, chemical production, automotive and other industries. The broader West Cheshire area is the fourth largest CO2 emitter in the UK because of this.
The project is part of the activities of the Energy Innovation District, an existing and developing cluster of energy-related companies and research & development organisations, all working to reduce or offset the carbon output of the area.
E-Port will set out a 10-year roadmap for a cost-effective transition to net zero, creating a model that could be applied nationally and exported internationally, according to its backers.
The total project will cost £930,000, with the Government’s Local Growth Fund contributing 77% of the funding, and the rest coming from local private sector partners. The blueprint is forecast to generate £100m of additional investment in the region by 2025.
Ged Barlow, chair of the Cheshire Energy Hub, said: “Reaching net zero emissions is going to require a significant amount of investment in new technologies and infrastructure to decarbonise power, heating and transport.
“But for these investments to be made, there needs to be a holistic plan that looks at the whole energy system. This isn’t just about developing a timely and cost-effective roadmap for decarbonisation in Cheshire. This is about safeguarding and growing the jobs that have made this region thrive.
“If we want to remain competitive and keep these industries here, we have to deliver net zero energy solutions.”
The E-Port smart energy system will be “the first of its kind in the UK”, he added. “This funding is an important step forward and demonstrates how Cheshire and the North West are leading the way on the net zero agenda.”
Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, added: “We see a huge opportunity for Ellesmere Port to become a leading player in the low carbon sector, so it is exciting to be working with our partners at the Cheshire Energy Hub on this enabling project that could identify a roadmap for more than £100m of capital investment, 33,000 new jobs, and significantly reduced carbon emissions.”
In April, a project to map out the UK’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, incorporating the HyNet hydrogen and carbon capture storage plant at Ellesmere Port, received £120,000 in Government grants to help spur its delivery.
The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster will span Cheshire, parts of North East Wales, Warrington, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.