Ground-breaking energy centre set to power thousands of homes

A ground-breaking District Energy Centre, launched in Gateshead, is set to cut energy bills and carbon emissions for homes and businesses.

The first of its kind and scale in the North East, the Centre houses a small but highly-efficient power station which will generate and supply low-carbon energy for thousands of homes and businesses through a new underground network of high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables.

The development is capable of capturing up to 85 per cent of the waste heat created during the energy generation process, which will then be fed directly to public buildings, businesses and people’s homes. It is hoped that the energy centre and network will be able to meet all the energy needs of future developments planned for Gateshead town centre.

Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, believes that the Centre is an important project which will give the area “a real cutting edge.”
“Our District Energy Centre is twice as efficient as a conventional power station, and far greener, and we can pass on some of those cost efficiencies to local people and businesses in the form of cheaper heat and power. This alone will make a real difference to people’s lives. We are also helping to substantially reduce Gateshead’s carbon footprint,” he said.
“This project clearly demonstrates what a forward-thinking local authority can deliver, and the kind of resources we can marshal to deliver a complicated and innovative development such as this.”

Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy, who recently visited the facility believes that the project is a great example of the kind of local initiatives the Government’s new Industrial Strategy is looking to support.
“This investment in local energy supplies is intended to deliver low carbon energy at competitive prices for local customers,” she said.
“Through our ambitious Industrial Strategy Green Paper, the Government is working hard to promote growth across the North East and the rest of the UK, and to ensure the supply of secure, affordable and low-carbon energy for businesses and households.”

Gateshead District Energy Centre uses a pair of 2MW gas-powered combined heat and power (CHP) plants to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes, with the waste heat from the engines being recovered to provide hot water for heating. In conventional power stations this waste heat is simply lost to the atmosphere.
The project has been funded entirely by Gateshead Council, without use of grants or subsidies, and is expected to be fully self-financing, with construction and operating costs recouped over the life of the project by energy sales both locally and to the National Grid. 

The scheme recently partnered with demand-response company Flexitricity in a £1m fifteen-year deal to supply electricity to the National Grid during peaks and troughs in national electricity demand.

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