Willmott Dixon selected for university energy project

The University of Chester has appointed contractor Willmott Dixon to develop its Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator project at Thornton Science Park, as part of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone.

The enterprise zone status was awarded by government last autumn and will be managed by Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

The project is part newbuild and part refurbishment and will be managed by Aecom. Design is by Ryder Architects and engineer Arup with WYG as quantity surveyor. The project is expected to be completed by March 2017, allowing tenants to take occupancy in June 2017.

University of Chester energy demonstrator

Anthony Dillon, managing director northern at Willmott Dixon, said: “The University of Chester’s Intelligent Energy Systems Demonstrator project will be a fantastic facility which will be central to growth of the energy research sector within Cheshire. Our focus on employing local companies will provide a great opportunity for local people to be involved with this innovative project.”

The team behind the IESD project at Thornton Science Park are keen to hear from energy-related businesses who would be interested in being part of the facility, which will be aiming to aid the development of cost effective and environmentally responsible sources of energy.

Companies will be able to work alongside the researchers from the University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering as is happening already throughout Thornton Science Park.

The Demonstrator is expected to become a nationally significant facility, primarily aimed at supporting and enabling energy research, innovation and technology development, to meet the growth needs of the sector. Energy companies will be able to test at scale new power saving and distribution technologies, aiding the development of low cost, environmentally responsible sources of energy.

The proposed development is being funded from the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, contributing up to £6.8m from the Local Growth Fund awarded as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal.

Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire & Warrington LEP, said: “Science is one of Cheshire and Warrington’s key strengths and its growth will play a key role in our ambitions to deliver a £50bn economy for the area by 2040. The Energy Demonstrator is a significant development for the sector and for Thornton Science Park, one of the key sites within the Cheshire Science Corridor which recently launched as an Enterprise Zone. This nationally significant project will be a flagship for the site.”

There will be office and laboratory space for research, innovation and development. The facility will house equipment for industry and academics, providing the capability for researchers to ‘plug and play’ with a number of facilities, across all aspects of energy systems (conventional and unconventional) and smart grids. All manner of energy sources are expected to be available for testing including the electrical grid, gas, solar voltaic and steam networks.

The demonstrator will specifically focus on the following areas of the industry:

  • Computational modelling
  • Materials identification and analysis
  • Engineering and mechanical design
  • Environmental modelling and testing
  • Onshore Gas and Oil
  • Smart grids and cities including the Internet of Things

Prof Joseph Howe, executive director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “The Energy Demonstrator is a vital initiative for the energy sector and its future security and sustainability and the University is thrilled to be hosting this project. This facility will become the showcase for new and innovative energy technologies, supporting their commercialisation and providing models for the generation, supply and management of energy too.

“There is also a great knock-on potential for our students, not only with industrial work-placement opportunities, but we anticipate that the science generated within the Demonstrator will be used by University staff to inform the science and engineering curricula at Thornton, to create, develop and maintain a highly trained workforce in the sector.”

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