A renewable energy developer has significantly boosted the size of a planned investment into Northumberland, promising 240 jobs.
Estover Energy was granted planning approval in summer 2013 to develop a biomass combined heat and power plant at Windmill Industrial Estate in Cramlington to supply neighbouring drugs manufacturers Aesica and MSD.
The London and Edinburgh-based company has now increased its investment into the project from £80m to £125m – with plans to add 100 jobs on top of the 140 it announced at planning approval stage.
The facility will supply low carbon heating and power into Aesica’s Cramlington factory which manufacturers active pharmaceutical ingredients for key drugs products.
Construction of the wood-burning plant, which will also feed power into the national grid, is expected to start in March.
The plant will produce 27MWe of electricity, enough to power 51,500 homes – more than the population of Durham – and will save over 66,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
Low grade wood, the type unsuitable for sawmilling and timber production, will be sourced from within a radius of 50 miles to feed the facility.
Max Aitken from Estover Energy said: “The huge benefits of biomass CHP are clear, supplying local manufacturing industry with reliable, low-carbon heat and power, generated from a local fuel supply as well as supplying electricity to the grid.
“The support we have received has been overwhelming, from local and national politicians as well as local businesses. We have been able to secure a larger grid connection than expected and there has been more interest from other industrial heat users, so this has allowed us to increase the size of the turbine within the same building footprint. It means an extra £45m of investment and more jobs.”
Estover has recently secured another similar project in Speyside, Scotland, to provide 90% of the steam needed for distilliation at The Macallan distillery – famous for single malt whiskies.
That project has attracted investment of £26m from the Government’s Green Investment Bank and infrastructure provider John Laing. It is hoped a similar investment deal can be achieved for the Cramlington project.
Labour MP for Blyth Valley Ronnie Campbell said: “The Windmill Industrial Estate hosts some of the largest employers in the North East. This development is a vital piece of green infrastructure which will help support these businesses and help them stay competitive.”