A key element of a new, £200m energy from waste power plant has been completed, paving the way for pioneering research of renewable energy technologies.
Multi-disciplinary engineering business Spencer Group has steered the Energy Works scheme in Hull from concept to delivery and the company is now playing a key part in construction of the vast green energy facility.
Up to 150 Spencer Group staff and sub-contractors have been delivering the £35m package of civil and structural works for the green energy power plant and the Spencer team has now completed the Energy Academy, a learning, research and development facility created in partnership with the University of Hull.
The striking, arched Energy Academy building incorporates the control room for Energy Works as well as education and research and development facilities. With full viewing windows on both floors, the building is purpose-designed to offer operational staff, researchers and visitors wide-ranging views of operations on site.
The partnership with the university will support two full-time PhD students and offer schools, other education institutions and the local community generally the opportunity to learn about the benefits of renewable energy technologies.
Specifically, the Energy Academy will support research related to the technologies within Energy Works and related processes.
Energy Works is the largest privately-funded power station of its kind under construction in the UK and the first advanced gasification power plant to be supported by Government’s Contracts for Difference regime supporting green technologies.
Energy Works is owned by a consortium of international investors specialising in waste to energy projects and has been supported by a £20m European Regional Development Fund grant to support green energy innovation.
The 25MW facility is due to begin generating electricity in 2018, using an innovative energy recovery process called fluidised bed gasification to produce sufficient energy to power 43,000 homes by processing 240,000 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) annually.
Richard Burgess, Deputy Managing Director of Hull-based Spencer Group, one of the UK’s largest private multi-disciplinary engineering companies, said: “Completion of the Energy Academy is a key milestone for the whole project.
“From the outset the objective was for Energy Works to be more than a power plant and construction of the Energy Academy demonstrates that ambition is being delivered.
“Energy Works will be at the forefront of waste to energy technology in the UK and pave the way for further innovation in this field. The Energy Academy and the partnership with the University of Hull will play a key part in maximising the research and development opportunities Energy Works offers.”
Spencer Group has steered Energy Works on a seven-year journey from concept to reality, with Spencer teams working closely with principal contractor M+W Group to deliver the huge green energy facility. On behalf of the investors, Spencer Group is also managing the construction of the plant and will oversee operations once live, under a Management Service Agreement.
The development will regenerate a brownfield site, divert waste from landfill and cut carbon emissions. At its peak 350 people have been employed on site during construction. Once live, 25 permanent staff will operate the facility, with many more jobs created in the supply chain and supporting the plant.
Energy Works will have an ongoing relationship with learning institutions at primary, secondary and higher education levels.
In addition to the partnership with the University of Hull, Energy Works has a well-established relationship with nearby Stoneferry Primary School in which pupils are learning about waste management and recycling and, especially, the necessity to save energy.
Spencer Group is also a Founding Partner of Hull’s new Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) and the UTC’s students will learn about Energy Works and careers available in the engineering and energy sectors. That relationship began even before the UTC opened, with the new school’s first intake of students among the first to tour the development.
Spencer Group Operations Director Andy Beach said: “As a Hull-based company, everyone at Spencer Group is very proud of Energy Works and the benefits it will bring to the city and region.
“We’re also excited that the Energy Academy will play such an important role in providing insight and inspiration to take forward the renewable technologies within Energy Works.
“The Energy Academy is unusual as it is an on-site facility as part of a working plant, rather than based in an educational institution. That means it offers a great opportunity to combine academic research with operational evidence.”