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06 Feb 2020

Peel Environmental powers up Protos as work begins on £16m energy infrastructure

Peel Environmental, part of Peel L&P, has started work on a new grid connection at Protos, investing more than £16m as the developer looks to futureproof the £700m strategic energy hub.   Planning consent has been secured from Cheshire West & Chester Council allowing work to start on two new substations, and a new grid connection.  

The 54-hectare development near Ellesmere Port clusters together innovative technologies in energy generation and resource management alongside energy-intensive businesses. The work will provide essential grid capacity enabling Protos to generate low carbon energy that, in the future, could be supplied directly to industrial and domestic customers.

The infrastructure work is essential to enabling the future of Protos, with a pipeline of energy generators already secured, including a 49MW energy-from-waste plant and the UK’s first commercial scale bio-substitute gas plant being developed by Progressive Energy – both of which are due to start construction this year. A planning application for a waste plastic to hydrogen facility is also due to be determined in the coming months.

Jayne Hennessy from Peel Environmental, part of Peel L&P said: “Protos is about locating innovative energy technologies side by side with the energy intensive industries in Cheshire, so they can benefit from the low carbon energy we’re producing. We’ve already got an operational biomass facility at Protos and construction is starting this year on a 49MW energy-from-waste plant and a bio-resources to transport facility. These essential grid upgrades will not only futureproof Protos but will be an important step in creating a local grid where energy users will be able to get lower cost and lower carbon energy.”

Protos sits within the Energy Innovation District (EID), which includes energy users and network owners alongside the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, Cheshire West & Chester Council, and the University of Chester. Led by the Cheshire Energy Hub, the EID is developing the concept for a smart local energy system that could see energy costs reduced by 20% and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This smart grid would automatically prioritise the lowest cost and lowest carbon source of energy for domestic and industrial users from locally generated sources.

The work at Protos will act as a test-bed for creating a local energy grid, potentially setting a blueprint for use across the UK.

Ged Barlow, Chair of the Cheshire Energy Hub said: “Regionally, Protos is already playing an important role in helping to decarbonising our industry and this essential infrastructure work will mean there’s more capacity to generate low carbon energy. In the Energy Innovation District we’re looking to create a blueprint for the rest of the UK where we can demonstrate how a smart local grid can lead to lower cost and lower carbon energy and the work at Protos is a vital step on this journey.”

Smith Brothers Contracting Ltd are currently on site constructing two 132kv substations, 33KV switchboard and transformers, and cables to connect to a new pylon being delivered by the local district network operator Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN). The substations will connect via the new pylon into the 132kv overhead line. When complete, the project will enable 124MW of export from generators, and 57MW of import to Protos.

Peel Environmental will retain ownership of one substation, while SPEN will adopt the other. SPEN will also carry out grid improvement works at Ince and Frodsham to enable the new import and export capacity at Protos

Phase 1 of the work is due to be completed by October 2020, when 50MW of export to the grid will be delivered, with the full import/export potential of the scheme to be enabled by December 2023.