Air Products has announced that it will build and operate the world’s largest renewable energy plant in the UK, creating hundreds of jobs.
The advanced gasification energy-from-waste facility will be built in Billingham, Teeside, and will be able to power up to 50,000 homes when complete.
The Tees Valley plant, located at the new energy and technology business park, will be the first of its kind in the UK and the largest of its kind anywhere in the world with an approximate capacity of 50MW.
Situated in close proximity to landfill disposal facilities, it will divert up to 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year, which will help the UK to meet its waste diversion targets.
The plant is expected to create up to 700 construction jobs and over 50 permanent jobs once operational, helping to revitalise a depressed local economy and grow a green skills base in the region.
The Westinghouse advanced gasification technology provided by AlterNRG offers a more efficient, cleaner conversion of waste-to-power than traditional energy-from-waste technologies and has the potential to generate a wider range of useful products, including heat, hydrogen, chemicals and fuels.
Longer term, the potential generation of renewable hydrogen could be deployed for commercial use, such as fuelling public transport.
“Our investment in advanced gasification energy-from-waste technology is a natural extension of our onsite business model. It offers an innovative growth opportunity,” said John McGlade, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products.
Mr McGlade commented that the investment in the UK was because it is committed to diversifying its sources of energy, strengthening its energy security and reducing carbon emissions. He added: “The facility will create skilled jobs in the area and we are hopeful it will provide an indirect boost to the local economy through the use of local service companies, hotels and other businesses.”
Air Products has secured the necessary environmental and planning approvals and the renewable energy facility is scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2014. Work has already begun to prepare the site. Full-scale construction activities will begin ramping up in the coming weeks.
“Advanced gasification has a key role to play in delivering renewable energy and I warmly welcome the decision by Air Products to proceed with its Tees Valley Renewable Energy Facility,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
“With the world’s spotlight on the UK this summer, we are working hard through the British Business Embassy programme to help UK and international companies to capitalize on new trade and investment opportunities to deliver safe, secure, sustainable and smarter energy from extraction through to the end user,” added Clegg.