18 Mar 2021
Re-energising natural resources
Myles Kitcher, Executive Director for Peel NRE, introduces the newly launched business and how it will help the UK to achieve a green post-pandemic recovery.
The Government’s Ten Point Plan, an Energy White Paper and COP26 in Glasgow later this year are bringing everything around climate change and a green recovery in to sharp focus. Here in the North West we are also aiming to become the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030 and the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040. We were founding members of the cluster organisation, Net Zero North West, which sees the potential to create over 33,000 new jobs and deliver over £4 billion of investment.
Within Peel NRE these are just some of the areas in which we are active: providing real estate, infrastructure and operational solutions for the low carbon and circular economy sectors, delivering investible projects and also exploring innovative solutions.
This is epitomised at our Protos development where we have just started phase two construction to support the delivery of Covanta’s 49MW, £350m energy from waste plant. Innovation is at the heart of Protos and we are exploring the potential for carbon capture and either use or storage. We have a range of other enquiries ranging from plastic recycling and reprocessing to recycling waste electronics.
Waste plastic is a global problem and the UK generates over five million tonnes a year with less than 30% getting recycled – there is an increasing focus from Government policy to address this issue. We are looking to deliver plants that can sort this plastic and recycle it back into new plastic but there is a long way to go. Our partnership with Powerhouse Energy gives us the technology to convert this unrecyclable plastic into hydrogen – widely seen as the solution to decarbonise heavy goods vehicles, buses, trains etc.
The other big opportunity to decarbonise is electrification - but this needs to be from renewable sources, and we need more of it. We have two large, consented windfarms in the Shetland Islands which we will look to bring forward this year as well as other projects and large solar schemes. We have a good track record in delivering wind – 180MW over the years.
As well as electrification, heating can be decarbonised through district heating schemes, like our Mersey Heat project at our Liverpool Waters development, for which we recently received planning permission for the energy centre. Ener-Vate is looking at many other schemes across the UK and changes in the building regulations are driving change.
This nicely complements our delivery of rapid electric charging points for cars through our Drive Energi joint venture.
Water has also been an important part of the business for some years. We manage abstraction and discharge to over 124km of our various waterways allowing more sustainable drainage solutions.
Finally, materials management or “muck” is increasingly central to supporting our own development and providing recycled materials for the general market. This year we hope to construct our first soil washing plant to take waste excavation materials and produce sand.