Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy, visited the newly-completed Gateshead District Energy Centre on Quarryfield Road next to Gateshead College to tour the building and formally hand over the keys.
The first of its kind and scale in the North East, the futuristic-looking District Energy Centre houses a small but highly-efficient power station which will generate and supply low-carbon, low cost energy for thousands of homes and businesses via a new underground network of high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables.
However, unlike conventional power stations, Gateshead’s District Energy Centre is capable of capturing up to 85% of the waste heat created during the energy generation process and this can then be fed directly to public buildings, businesses and people’s homes via a network of underground heat pipes.
The first buildings to take advantage of the energy centre include Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Civic Centre, Gateshead College, BALTIC and residential housing in central Gateshead, and all should be receiving heat and power by the summer.
The energy centre and network has been designed to ensure the Energy Centre will be able to meet all the energy needs of future developments planned for Gateshead town centre and underpin the redevelopment of the 21-hectare Baltic Business Quarter business development site and wider Gateshead Quays area, as well as major housing developments at the former Freightliner site and the new Exemplar Neighbourhood - an area between the Felling by-pass and the former Chandless estate where up to 1,000 new homes are planned.
The location of the Energy Centre – right next to the 21-hectare Baltic Business Quarter business development site – will mean that businesses will also have the major commercial advantage of a low-cost energy and heating supplier right on their doorstep.
Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, said: “This is an important project which will give our area a real cutting edge.
“Our District Energy Centre is twice as efficient as a conventional power station, and far greener, and we can pass on some of those cost efficiencies to local people and businesses in the form of cheaper heat and power. This alone will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“However, the commercial advantages offered by cheap heat and power will be obvious to incoming businesses and we believe this is likely to drive up demand for business space here in Gateshead, something that should help to generate much-needed new jobs.
“We are also helping to substantially reduce Gateshead’s carbon footprint.
He added: “This project clearly demonstrates what a forward-thinking local authority can deliver, and the kind of resources we can marshal to deliver a complicated and innovative development such as this. I hope it shows that our commitment to local people and to local business remains undiminished by the financial hardships that we are suffering.”
Minister for Industry and Energy, Jessie Norman said: “This investment in local energy supplies is intended to deliver low carbon energy at competitive prices for local customers. It is a great example of the kind of local initiatives our new Industrial Strategy is looking to support.
“Through our ambitious Industrial Strategy Green Paper, the Government is working hard to promote growth across the North East and the rest of the UK, and to ensure the supply of secure, affordable and low-carbon energy for businesses and households.”
Gateshead District Energy Centre uses a pair of 2MW gas-powered combined heat and power (CHP) plants to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes, with the waste heat from the engines being recovered to provide hot water for heating. In conventional power stations this waste heat is simply lost to the atmosphere.
The project has been funded entirely by Gateshead Council, without use of grants or subsidies, and is expected to be fully self-financing, with construction and operating costs recouped over the life of the project by energy sales both locally and to the National Grid. The scheme recently partnered with demand-response company Flexitricity in a £1m fifteen-year deal to supply electricity to the National Grid during peaks and troughs in national electricity demand.
The energy centre was developed and designed by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhof – who designed the district heating scheme for the Olympic Park in London - and managed the project throughout construction. Dominic Bowers, Director, Energy Solutions, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, says: “The Energy Solutions team at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff has been involved with this innovative project since its inception, and is very proud to have worked with colleagues at Gateshead Council to help bring it to reality - we see it as an exemplar for local authority led district energy projects.”
The energy centre was constructed by Balfour Beatty. Mark Farrah, Managing Director of the North & Midlands at Balfour Beatty, said: “The mini but mighty Gateshead District Energy Centre will help power a step-change in how energy is created and distributed in the UK.
“This complex project required the full use of our engineering and mechanical expertise to ensure it was built to schedule and budget. With cheaper bills, lower carbon emissions, increased energy security and less demand on the national grid, schemes like this are the gateway to the future for better and improved energy provision across the UK.”
The gas-fired combined heat and power plants were installed by Edina UK, who will also maintain the plants, and the underground heat and power networks were installed by Sunderland-based Clancy Docwra.
Gateshead Council, which has developed the project and owns both the District Energy Centre and it’s operator the Gateshead Energy Company, has aspirations for the District Energy Centre to be the first of several such centres delivering cheap heat and power to people’s homes throughout the borough.
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For Further Information: Iain Lynn, Communications
(0191) 433 2072