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Infinis taps into North East energy potential

THE Infinis group of companies (the "Infinis group" or "Infinis") is the UK's leading generator of purely renewable power.

THE Infinis group of companies (the "Infinis group" or "Infinis") is the UK's leading generator of purely renewable power.

It is also the largest generator in the UK landfill gas-to-electricity market. In the year to 31 March 2010 the Infinis group produced approximately 10% of the UK’s renewable power.

A unique entrepreneurial spirit of enthusiasm, ambition and a single minded focus on success underpins both Infinis’ drive to create value for its shareholders and its passion to make a significant contribution towards a more sustainable world.

The Infinis group is owned by Terra Firma, one of the leading private equity firms.

Infinis employs approximately 390 people and operates a growing operating UK portfolio of 138 landfill gas (LFG), onshore wind and hydro plants with an aggregate capacity of 439MW¹, comprising 124 LFG sites (345MW), 10 hydro sites (17MW) and four onshore wind farms (77MW). It also has a strong onshore wind development portfolio including 22MW currently in construction.

To diversify its portfolio Infinis is pursuing further opportunities involving a number of other renewable technologies including anaerobic digestion, solar photovoltaic, peaking plants and renewable heat.

Infinis rides the wind in the North East

Infinis is pursuing a number of wind energy projects in the North East, including the six-turbine Wingates Wind Farm (subject of a planning application to Northumberland County Council) and the four-turbine Sisters Wind Farm near Widdrington, both of which came from the Novera Energy portfolio acquired by the Infinis group in November 2009.

Sisters Wind Farm to harness the wind in Widdrington

The Sisters Wind Farm project near Widdrington, sited on agricultural land neighbouring some of Northumberland's opencast mining sites, is being developed in consultation with the County Council and the communities close to the site.

The project comprises four 2-2.5MW turbines (8-10MW), which would generate annually renewable energy equivalent to the domestic electricity consumption of 4,500-5,500² homes, depending on the final selection of turbine model. This equates to 515GWh over the expected 25-year operational lifetime.

Consultation and community involvement is a very important element of the project development process and something that Infinis is very committed to.

The Sisters Wind Farm is an example of this, where the wind farm layout has continued to evolve following over 12 months of survey work and stakeholder engagement including public exhibition events, feedback and numerous one-on-one and community group meetings.

By taking into account the results of a wide range of environmental surveys, technical constraints and feedback from the consultation process the optimised design of an arc of four turbines of up to 126m tip height evolved from an initial layout of five taller turbines.

In the next phase of the consultation process a community liaison group will be established to provide a forum for local community representatives and the Infinis team to exchange information and keep up to date on the project.

Knock-on effect to the local economy

Northumberland is fast becoming a centre of excellence for green energy and it is reported that the Port of Blyth and Northumberland County Council’s new initiative, the Blyth Estuary Renewable Energy Zone (BEREZ), will be a catalyst for creating hundreds of new renewable energy jobs in the area.

Wind farms bring excellent opportunities for local businesses. Infinis’ policy is to utilise, when practicable, local contractors for construction, operation and maintenance work and it is estimated that at the Sisters site local and regional companies would be able to bid for construction contracts worth around £2.4m, producing a further direct positive effect in the local economy.

Community to benefit

Another important aspect of all Infinis wind farm projects is the operational stage community trust fund. At Sisters, early engagement with local community groups regarding potential community fund projects has generated some exciting prospects for consideration including improvements to local leisure facilities, renewable energy education, local energy efficiency measures, and even a proposed community wind turbine.

The community trust fund once operational could result in £16,000 per year being invested locally (£2,000/yr per MW of installed capacity), equivalent of up to £400,000 during the life of the wind farm, to be allocated by local people to benefit projects in the area.

Project timetable

Infinis is currently preparing a planning application for the Sisters Wind Farm project, to be submitted to Northumberland County Council. After that, assuming a planning decision towards the end of 2011, construction could begin as early as 2012 with the wind farm operational by 2013.

Footnotes

¹ As at January 31 2011.

² This calculation is based on the UK average capacity factor of 29.4% (taken from Table 7.4 in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics, DUKES, 2009, for data in 2008: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/source/renewables/renewables.aspx) and an average UK household electricity consumption in 2008 of 4,478kWh (Department of Energy and Climate Change Sub-national electricity data: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/regional/electricity/electricity.aspx) which leads to a calculation of the equivalent electricity consumption of 4,500 to 5,500 households (rounded down to the nearest 500 households). It should be noted that the equivalent household electricity consumption calculated will vary depending on site wind speeds and actual household electricity consumption.

 

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