A cluster of energy-related industries in Cheshire has secured funding to deliver the UK’s ‘first major industry-backed local energy system’ in the industrial heartland of Ellesmere Port.
The North West Energy Innovation District (EID), an area home to a number of major energy users and technology firms, was awarded the funding to deliver the first stage of its ‘E-Port Smart Energy Master Plan’.
The project aims to develop a ten-year, nationally-replicable model for a local, private grid that can deliver low cost, low carbon energy for industrial, commercial and domestic users.
It includes a ‘multi-vector’ energy system, comprising of electricity, gas, heat and hydrogen, and an ‘innovative operating system’ to manage the network.
‘Energy traded locally’
Peel Environmental, one of the EID’s members, has already begun work to provide a micro-grid connection from local power assets - including a 21MW biomass facility and a 57MW wind farm - to existing energy-intensive manufacturing nearby.
“The vision is that by using smart technologies consumers will be able to switch energy supply based on the most competitive price, offering greater choice and transparency”, explained Peel Environmental’s Myles Kitcher.
Ged Barlow, chair of the EID, said: “This is an important step forward for the EID and highlights the potential of the North West to lead the charge on decentralised energy systems.
Slashed energy costs
“What makes the EID truly innovative is the clustering of energy-intensive industries alongside energy sources, an established supply chain and a critical mass of energy ‘know how’ and R&D.
“With the private and public sector working together, this project will show how connecting energy users to local sources of energy generation can reduce costs, cut carbon emissions and increase energy security. The impacts could be huge, with the aim to create a network where energy costs are cut by at least 20 per cent.”
Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for the environment at Cheshire West & Chester Council, suggested that the project could help to attract energy-intensive companies looking for cheap and clean energy supplies.
“Creating an energy market where energy can be traded locally is part of a low carbon, low cost future that will ensure Cheshire remains a competitive place to do business.”