Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, told an event at MIPIM that the region has the potential to create the world’s first zero carbon industry cluster, based around its Energy Innovation District proposition.
C&W LEP believes the district can transform the effects of energy consumption in the region, across the country and across the world in the next two decades.
Gaskell said: “Our very realisable aspiration is to make Cheshire and Warrington a global leader in low and zero carbon technologies and our Energy Innovation District will make that possible. The government has £170m to spend on low carbon industrial clusters and it wants this to happen by 2030 and zero carbon clusters by 2040.
“Industry in Ellesmere Port and Runcorn uses 5% of the UK’s energy and we believe we have the technology and capability to make it a zero-carbon area within 20 years. Imagine the impact that will have on the region and the opportunities it will present for new investors and to export our knowhow and experience across the world.”
According to Philip Cox, chief executive of the LEP, called the opportunity “absolutely huge”.
“Cheshire Warrington can be a world leader,” he said. “5% of all the UK’s energy is used in this innovation district, and if we can deliver the agenda to be low carbon by 2030, and zero carbon by 2040, people will be absolutely beating our door down.”
When asked from the audience how much shale gas featured in Cheshire and Warrington’s energy plan, Cox insisted “we are agnostic” about the source of energy.
“What is important is that zero carbon by 2040 goal, for industrial clusters. How we get that, we’re relatively indifferent, whether that’s nuclear, biomass, wind, or stripping carbon out of methane.”
Ged Barlow, chair of the Cheshire Energy Hub, added: “We are determined to deliver this quickly because the EID is an opportunity to deliver a new energy system for Cheshire and Warrington and the wider North West and reduce energy costs by up to 50%, generate £7bn of private capital investment, create more than 33,000 full time jobs and give Cheshire and Warrington the opportunity to showcase ourselves as tech leaders.”
Barlow said that since the EID’s announcement last year, £200,000 of funding had been secured from Innovate UK to prove the concept. Members of the EID already include Tata, Essar Oil, Peel Environmental, EA Technology, SP Energy Networks and Urenco.
He added that he “would leave it up to the Government to decide” whether shale gas was an appropriate energy source.
Earlier this month, Peel Environmental revealed that their plans for a huge renewable energy facility had taken a big step forward having signed a deal with Progressive Energy to work on the UK’s first commercial scale bio-substitute natural gas plant, on the back of which, an development application had been submitted.
The facility will generate renewable gas from up to 175,000 tonnes of bio-resources, including unrecyclable wood and refuse-derived fuel to be used in the transport sector, generating enough gas to power up to 1,000 low carbon HGVs and buses every year.
Place North West’s coverage of MIPIM is brought to you in association with Macbryde Homes