Ellesmere Port poised to become a global player in green energy - say industry experts

18 June 2021

Ellesmere Port has the potential to attract more than £2bn in regeneration investment and become one of the first Net Zero Carbon Industrial cluster in the world. 

This is the verdict from a high-profile group of industry leaders who gathered this week to discuss exciting plans for the future of the Cheshire town. 

Delegates at the Cheshire West and Chester: Developing a World Class Location for Net Zero Growth webinar heard about plans to position Ellesmere Port at the heart of the nation’s green industrial revolution.

Over the next few years, the town is expected to attract a number of major energy-related projects aimed at providing sustainable carbon-free alternatives to power homes and businesses. 

These include a £600m waste to fuel plant on the site of the Essar Oil, Stanlow Refinery. A further £400m has already been brought into the town through the Ellesmere Port Industrial Area, attracting new investment from major players such as Regatta, DHL and Jaguar Land Rover. 
The online event heard from a range of industry experts, including Peel NRE managing director Myles Kitcher, Hynet project manager Richard Holden, Rachel Perry from HyNet and Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Director of Economy and Housing Gemma Davies. 

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Climate Emergency, Cllr Matt Bryan, said: “We declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, following consultation with residents. We have a response plan, leading the way in best practice, and looking at all aspects of Council business to drive down emissions, waste and become a net zero exemplar authority. We have pledged to work to make the Council carbon neutral by 2030 and the borough carbon neutral by 2045.”

Ellesmere Port has attracted extensive Public Sector investment including: 
  • £6 million Regional Growth Fund to support £168m private sector investment.
  • £8 million Local Growth Fund that has contributed towards the £16m Ellesmere Port Public Service Hub and new Ellesmere Port Bus Interchange. 
  • Enterprise Zone status secured for 10 key sites
  • Town Centre Improvement Programme (46 per cent shops on Whitby Rd improved)
  • Over £3 million combined investment from Local Growth Fund and Local Sustainable Transport Fund for improvements in new sustainable shared use transport infrastructure at Stanney Lane and Sutton Way Boulevards; Thornton Way; Thornton Road; Lees Lane; A5117; and Canal Towpath improvements.
  • £12.4m investment to modernise and refurbish Council housing stock at Sutton Way
Added Councillor Bryan: “The Ellesmere Port Industrial Area has also seen huge investments including major energy related projects like Fulcrum BioEnergy developing a new £600m waste to fuel plant. A new Development and Infrastructure Investment Framework (DIIF) has highlighted the potential for the area to attract a further £2bn development regeneration investment.  

“HyNet has bid for Industrial Clusters Mission funding, the Cheshire and Warrington LEP has secured funding for sustainable travel improvements, and Peel, Essar, Vauxhall and other private sector stakeholders are investing significant amounts in delivering sustainable and low carbon technologies on their sites.”

Some of the major projects that are planned or are already under way in Ellesmere Port, that were highlighted during the webinar, are: 

Progressive Energy - HyNet
Progressive Energy develop projects which reduce carbon emissions across industry, homes and transport.  The team is focused on hydrogen and capturing and storing carbon (CCS). They are the lead developer of HyNet North West.

HyNet is the UK’s leading low carbon hydrogen and Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) project offering a low cost, low risk route to decarbonise the North West industrial cluster and other sectors of the regional economy. Kick starting the hydrogen economy, it will deliver a material contribution to net zero and considerable economic benefit. Repurposing Liverpool Bay gas fields infrastructure provides a low capital entry for CCUS deployment of one million tonnes of CO2 per year with incremental growth to 10 million tonnes per year and beyond. 

The HyNet project aims to start the transition to a hydrogen economy delivering 80 per cent of the Prime Minister’s 2030 UK target for low carbon hydrogen.

It is ready to transform the region creating the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster, and an attractive investment location. 

Fulcrum BioEnergy
Fulcrum BioEnergy has recently signed a deal to develop a £600m waste-to-fuel plant at Ellesmere Port on the site of the Essar Oil Stanlow Refinery. This zero-carbon project will deliver transformational change for the North West.

The innovative bio-refinery will convert several hundred thousand tonnes of pre-processed waste, which would have otherwise been destined for incineration or landfill, into approximately 100 million litres of low carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) annually. 

This new development promises to lead the way to a cleaner and more sustainable future in the North West and change the way aviation fuel is made to help decarbonise the UK.  By using SAF from residual domestic household and commercial waste, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by approximately 70 per cent and have the future potential to be fully carbon neutral when compared to fuels produced from conventional crude oil. 

SAF produced at the site offers a 90 per cent reduction in particulates, which may benefit local air quality in and around airports. 

The new venture will complement Essar’s wider plans to build a green energy industrial cluster at the Stanlow site. Earlier this year, it announced its participation in production of blue hydrogen under the HyNet project.

The Government released its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in November 2020. The overriding purpose of the plan is to ‘support green jobs and accelerate the UK’s path to net zero’.

Cheshire and Warrington are at the heart of this Green Industrial Revolution as a renewably powered ‘SuperPlace’, ready to deliver the Ten Point Plan with clear proposals for decarbonising the economy and creating green jobs

At the centre of North West England’s Energy and Clean-Growth economy lies a technology and production led cluster spanning an innovation corridor from Ellesmere Port through to the M56 corridor. The Ellesmere Port Industrial Area is one of the most important industrial and employment clusters in the UK. It has the potential to fast track the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution and help to achieve the UK’s ambitious carbon reduction targets. 

As a highly industrialised area, Ellesmere Port has the 5th highest emissions in the country. Without interventions, by 2045 the area will have added 70 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere from industry in Cheshire. 

The Ellesmere Port Industrial Area
The Ellesmere Port Industrial Area (EPIA) currently has 1,300 businesses employing 24,100 people. There are four distinctive development zones, that have attracted over £400 million investment to date including Regatta, Jaguar Land Rover / DHL, Westland Horticulture, Marks and Spencer, ESSAR, Peel (Protos), URENCO, Cheshire Oaks, University of Chester (Thornton Science Park) with a further £2 billion forecast.
A new Development and Infrastructure Investment Framework (DIIF) presents a shared vision for the area to form one of the first Net Zero Carbon industrial clusters in the world, and one of the UK’s ‘Super Places’ linking clean and green growth and low carbon technologies implemented at an industrial scale. 

The Framework expects an increase to 1,463 businesses, employing 35,500 people by 2040. 

The Ellesmere Port Industrial Area (EPIA) zones:

Stanlow and Thornton Zone
This zone will help establish HyNet and enable the delivery of CCUS and Hydrogen power. This will put the EPIA, and the region at the forefront of low carbon energy technologies implemented on an industrial scale and unlock significant additional economic growth opportunities.

The presence of the University of Chester at Thornton Science Park will create a link between research and innovation and practical application of technologies. This area will be a global leader in research, development, demonstration and application of innovations, focused on energy, environment, advanced manufacturing and the automotive industry.

This unique offering, combining research, development, demonstration, and industrial scale application, can support EPIA in being at the forefront of world first technologies, and innovations.

Western Advanced Manufacturing Zone
This area can support the future transition of car manufacturing in the UK. The research and development function of Thornton Science Park and advancements in hydrogen power and low carbon technologies across EPIA will create the opportunities for advanced vehicle manufacture in this area, including electric and hydrogen vehicles, and could attract international investment. 

The area will also play an important role in diversifying the business base of the area, unlocking new land for development for a diverse range of business uses. Importantly initiatives in this area will make existing manufacturers more resilient and support their ongoing operation and growth to secure and safeguard existing jobs.

EPIA Central
This is the main arrival point to EPIA. Located next to a major road junction, the rail station and town centre, it is the area regularly accessed by the public for recreation and leisure use. This is the place where community and industry mix in a high-quality environment. For residents it presents an attractive waterfront destination, easily accessible from the town centre, and providing cultural as well as employment, skills and learning opportunities. 

For existing businesses, it will act as a site to engage with the community, with the aim of improving understanding of the complex process of the industrial area. This will help link local people with local jobs it will also be a place new business support services can start up including digital technology, innovation and training

Eastern Growth District
The Eastern Growth District will develop over the next 10 to 15 years into the UKs most advanced clean and green energy industrial cluster, playing a significant role in driving forward the low carbon economy, as well as supporting industry to deliver environmentally beneficial processes that reduce and recover waste, create energy, and increase the efficiency of complex industrial processes. 

It will play a key role in enabling HyNet, and along with the rest of EPIA, it will service industrial users to make processes efficient, less resource intensive, and reduce the environmental impact of industry, creating one of the UKs first ‘SuperPlaces’.
 

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