The 'E-Port Smart Energy Master Plan' concept was developed during a six-month study from February to July 2019. The study – which is the first phase of the E-Port Energy project – gathered energy and infrastructure data from local stakeholders. It sets out a design and ten-year investment plan for the industrial heartland around Ellesmere Port. The feasibility study shows how locally generated energy could be traded between local consumers and generators.
Ged Barlow, Chair of the Energy Innovation District said: "We face a huge challenge in the UK to decarbonise and safeguard the industries that make our nation prosper. The Energy Innovation District is centred around the industrial heartland of Ellesmere Port, with its concentration of leading businesses in manufacturing and chemical production. With companies like Vauxhall threatening job losses in the region, it brings into sharp focus the need to reduce energy costs and offer a viable solution to decarbonisation. This study demonstrates how the North West is leading the charge, setting out a nationally replicable model for smart energy systems."
Jonathan Chapman, Burns & McDonnell's UK Managing Director and principal author of the report, said: "Investment and regulatory change will be required for E-Port Energy to fulfil the huge positive impact it has the potential for, and the same goes for the UK as a whole. Our current inability to create supply security that can deal with demand spikes while also finding solutions to meet carbon emission reduction targets reflects some failings in mapping out a clear future.
"However, a whole system approach - a fully integrated proposal for master-planning and delivering energy services at a district level, encompassing the supply and demand of all interconnected energy vectors - will optimise the UK's sustainability, reliability and affordability performance in the future."
Other findings outlined in the E-Port Smart Energy Master Plan include:
• A whole system approach combining electricity and hydrogen is key to a lower carbon future – by enabling flexibility between different vectors, the concept unlocks capacity on the energy networks
• The introduction of a higher carbon tax would enable the competitiveness of investment in low-carbon projects and reduce the cost of energy for consumers
• There is a danger that the pace of growth is leaving the job market behind and it is crucial that all parties – from schools through to the industrial players themselves – take ownership of this problem to address the skills issue
The E-Port Energy project is one of many the North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster – a partnership of companies, regional leaders and network of academic experts under the North West Business Leadership Team – that recently came together to meet the Government's challenge of delivering the world's first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040. Spearheaded by the Cheshire Energy Hub, the Energy Innovation District brings together energy users, network owners, innovators and partners – including EA Technology, Burns & McDonnell, Urenco, Cadent Gas, SP Energy Networks and Peel Environmental – working alongside Cheshire & Warrington LEP, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester.
Myles Kitcher from Peel Environmental said: "Transforming the way we generate and distribute energy could lead to millions of pounds invested in Cheshire. The opportunities are huge and the next step is to ensure we have the right skills and workforce to deliver these world leading technologies. This project is one of many in the North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster which could see over 33,000 jobs created and £4 billion invested in the region."
The executive summary of the report is available to read here.