Renewable energy company, Estover Energy, has today announced plans to develop a £65 million biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in the South East, making a positive impact upon the region’s renewable energy sector and creating jobs.
The specialist company is proposing to develop the local scale biomass plant on Discovery Park; a science and technology park based in Sandwich, Kent, and will supply renewable heat and electricity across the 220-acre park. The planned CHP plant will also supply low carbon electricity to the national grid, supporting the UK’s national target to generate 15 per cent of its energy demand from renewable sources by 2020.
The project represents an inward investment of approximately £80million to the area and will significantly bolster the local economy. Around 100 jobs will be created during the construction period and up to 40 permanent jobs, in positions at the plant and a further 20 jobs in the forestry and transport sector.
The proposed facility would use conventional CHP steam turbine technology - proven to be reliable and clean - to generate approximately 11 MW of power and 8MW of heat, which would be enough energy to supply the equivalent of 21,000 homes with electricity. The biomass plant will use locally sourced low-grade wood fuel to generate renewable heat and power for the Park, significantly reducing its energy costs, carbon footprint and reliance on imported fossil fuel. The wood fuel comes solely from local forestry and woodland, typically within an average distance of 80 miles.
Discovery Park, Europe’s leading science and technology park, was chosen as the optimum location for the plant after Estover Energy conducted an extensive review of potential sites in the South East with suitable industrial heat partners. The site covers about 10 acres of surplus industrial land within the energy centre that currently provides Discovery Park with heat and electricity produced from burning fossil fuels.
The location was chosen because of its Enterprise Zone status and also due to its existing infrastructure, which the CHP plant can use to supply power to the whole of Discovery Park as it currently stands and as it continues to evolve and expand.
Estover Energy is intending to submit a planning application for the CHP plant to Dover District Council in July, and if granted, work would begin on site in 2014. The company has a solid track record as a specialist developer of small-scale biomass CHP plants, with two consented projects in Scotland and another in Northumberland.
Andrew Troup, Development Director, Estover Energy, said: “We believe that using the by-product from woodland management and harvesting to generate energy is a positive alternative to fossil fuels, and one that is supported by government and many environmental and rural campaigning groups. Low-grade wood fuel is clean, has low emissions and is good for the local area, both providing rural jobs, and stimulating investment in local woodland and forestry.
“If the application is successful, the biomass plant at Discovery Park will help meet the energy challenges of the next decade - energy security, the energy gap and climate change – for the region and will stimulate investment in local forestry management. The plant will help to create a significant and reliable local market for low-grade wood, making woodland management more economic, helping local wood producers diversify and supporting the production of high quality timber and coppice products in the region. Critically for Discovery Park and its tenants and future occupiers, it will provide a reliable and decarbonised source of energy into the future.
Paul Barber, Managing Director, Discovery Park, said: “We were delighted to be chosen as the ideal location for the proposed biomass plant, which will significantly benefit the local area in terms of jobs and investment. Discovery Park offers prime industrial land, with the infrastructure already in place for the energy facility for the power plant to use, should planning permission be granted and hopefully as a result of our Enterprise Zone status the proposal will benefit from simplified planning procedures. Businesses on site could also benefit from the power supply, helping to reduce the Park’s energy costs and carbon footprint.”
Communities and Local Government Secretary of State Eric Pickles said: "Enterprise Zones are creating new local jobs and stimulating business ventures through significant tax incentives, simplified planning and super fast broadband that will rebalance the economy. I'm delighted that Estover Energy is taking advantage of these changes. Their ambitious plan for a new £65 million biomass plant at Discovery Park will boost employment and growth in Kent."
A series of public consultation events will take place in the coming weeks where visitors can find out more about the proposed plant and speak directly with the management team at Estover Energy.