Renewable energy will be powering the next scientific discoveries at Discovery Park after terms of agreement were reached with investors on construction of a £160 million biomass plant at the Sandwich site.
The fund Copenhagen Infrastructure II and Burnmeister and Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC) have acquired 100 per cent of the bio-mass fired combined heat and power plant, which will eventually produce all the power and heat requirements for the site’s 150 plus companies.
While some preparatory groundwork has taken place in anticipation of the deal, the official go-ahead signals the start of full construction with a completion date of summer 2018.
The power plant will be constructed by BWSC, which is also the business partner of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) on two other biomass plants in the UK. BWSC will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the plant for up to 20 years.
Kent’s first biomass power plant will have a capacity of 27.8 MW and will be fired primarily with virgin wood sourced in the UK, including coppice grown locally in Kent and East Sussex.
The entire biomass required will be provided through a long term contract with EuroForest, one of the largest virgin wood suppliers in the UK. The plant will deliver CO2 savings of approximately 100,000 tonnes every year.
The project, which has been developed by Estover Energy Ltd, will be able to produce power corresponding to the power consumption of 50,000 households as well as secure supplies for Discovery Park.
It will create around 300 jobs during its construction phase and 25 full time jobs once operational.
Paul Barber, Managing Director, Discovery Park, said: “The signing of this deal is great news for Discovery Park and in agreeing terms for a £160 million investment a vote of confidence in this site’s ongoing success.
“This summer we passed the milestone of 150 companies on site, employing over 2,400 people. For them, this agreement guarantees them future security of energy supplies at a time of great uncertainty in the UK energy market.
“When this new plant opens in two years’ time, Discovery Park will be in the unique position of being self-sufficient for its energy needs, as well significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
“The new biomass plant, is one of a number of investments marking an exciting new chapter for Discovery Park.; investments that will not only create jobs and prosperity for East Kent but increases its sustainability too.”
The start of work on the new biomass plant coincides with a step up in activity on site including the ongoing refurbishment of Building 500, restoring its position as a centre for science research and development.
This summer has also seen the start of work on Instro Precision’s 46,000 sq ft new manufacturing plant, set to open for production in the first quarter of 2017. This move for the security systems specialist secures 100 existing jobs with a further 50 jobs expected to be created.
Works on the west site development land have also begun with a new 20,000 sq ft unit for specialist timber frame company, OFP Timber Framed Homes Ltd, safeguarding 40 jobs.