A £60M biomass power station marks a new era in Wilton’s history, according to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks.
After opening SembCorp Utilities’ 100% wood-to-energy power plant, the first of its kind in the UK, Mr Wicks, said he was impressed by the development of a “critical form of renewable energy” on Teesside.
He said: “As a centre of excellence in terms of power generation and chemicals, Wilton is a natural site for this kind of new development.
“This is a new part of Wilton’s history. The site was new and innovative 60 years ago and is again today in terms of generating cleaner, greener energy.”
Mr Wicks hopes to see “many more” biomass power plants in the UK, as Government works towards a target of producing 20% of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
He said attracting skilled workers to research green energy was vital.
“It is very important because I think in the past, people might have seen climate change as a threat to the economy, but now, some of the brightest and most successful companies will be ones that realise although global warming presents a challenge, it’s also a big opportunity and that is something I think will be seized, particularly in this region.”
Redcar MP Vera Baird said Teesside could be leading a new industrial revolution.
“Teesside was the birthplace of the first industrial revolution with its massive iron and steel production,” she said.
“Later, here at Wilton, we led the development of new products like nylon and polyester.
“Are we leading a second or third industrial revolution, going from being a site perceived, as we were a few years ago, of sunset industries, to a site which now will soon be packed and in need of physical extension, with modern profitable processing industries providing career opportunities for my constituents?”
Tang Kin Fei, group president and chief executive of Singapore-based SembCorp Industries, said the firm was committed to expanding operations at Wilton.
He said: “From our initial investment of £103m we have more than doubled our investment to about £250m.With the operation and expertise of the team here we are certain we can look at opportunities for development on Teesside, in the UK and the rest of Europe.”