The region is continually at the forefront of innovation in the field of environmental technologies, supported by our established energy industry that provides unrivalled levels of skill and expertise. Yorkshire and Humber is one of the largest gas importers into the UK and the region’s concentration of electricity plants produce over 18% of the UK’s electricity. This established energy infrastructure provides numerous accessible connection points for renewable energy developments to plug into the National Grid.
We’re already home to over 1,200 unique companies active in the environmental technologies sector with almost 100 sites generating electricity from renewable sources. The nurturing of clean coal technologies is also taking place across the region, with all three of the region’s power plants involved in related projects and an impressive academic research and development base driving this new technology.
Yorkshire and Humber’s ability to adapt from a high energy fossil fuel producer into developing environmental technologies that can continue to deliver energy to the UK is a top priority. Investment in tidal, biomass and biofuel are key to making this change a success and the region is leading the UK in these sub-sectors.
The Yorkshire and Humber region offers real investment opportunities for those companies in the tidal power industry. The Carbon Trust set up by the UK government, estimates that wave and tidal stream energy could supply up to 20% of the UK’s electricity demand in the future. The funding options available here are also among the highest in the world and include the UK’s Strategic Investment Fund and the new Marine Renewables Proving Fund.
Geographically, the Humber estuary in the east of our region is perfect for developing tidal power. The United Kingdom has some of the strongest tidal zones in the world while the estuary itself has been identified as one of only 20 suitable tidal power locations in the world. It’s for this reason that Sheffield based Pulse Tidal are currently piloting the Pulse Stream 100, the world’s first grid-connected, shallow water, tidal stream generator.
The Humber estuary’s entrance is over 10 miles wide, while the Sunk Channel is maintained at 8.8 metres (with a depth of 9.5 metres) and has a tide rise of 5 metres. There are also many large land banks, along with a sheltered coastline and access to deep water, with the potential to develop new quays.
The port of Grimsby, located in the Humber estuary, has a great deal of experience in servicing offshore renewable projects and it currently provides facilities for the Operations & Maintenance for both Siemens and Centrica. Grimsby and its port also provide direct access to dedicated load bearing, deep water, quayside. The estuary here is also 660 metres wide, easily allowing large vessels to pass each other.
The tidal power sector borrows heavily from technologies in the wind and offshore industries. Wind turbine blades, hubs and transmissions can all be resized and marinised for long-term underwater use, while expertise in castings, forgings, fabrications and assemblies is also required. Yorkshire and Humber is the UK’s centre for Advanced Engineering and Materials and has an extensive range of companies already based here with these skills, ready to supply this emerging market.
Biomass and biofuel
Yorkshire and Humber is the most dominant region for biomass production contributing 26% of the UK’s total. Increased global focus on addressing climate change and related Government policy offer significant growth opportunities in the region’s biomass/biofuel sector.
Our region has a major cluster of power stations and produces 18% of the UK’s electricity, while over 100 biomass energy companies, from suppliers to growers are also based here. The largest power station in the UK, Drax is already co-firing biomass, which puts our region as the national leader in energy from biomass. There are also dedicated biomass burning plants already under construction throughout the region, including a plant in Stallingborough (Helius Eneergy) and on the East coast at Holderness (Tansterne Straw-burning Power Station), which will increase the opportunities in the supply chain.
Funding is available through CO2Sense Yorkshire, a UK government funded company for a variety of organisations and businesses, including renewable energy project developers and investors wishing to exploit these emerging technologies. CO2Sense Yorkshire recently worked with energy specialists Dalkia to build one of the largest wood pellet mills in the UK, capable of producing 50,000 tonnes of wood pellet per year. Business in our region also have access to world class R&D in renewable energy, petrochemicals, refining and the unique planned bio refining demonstrator.
Biomass fuels are currently the fastest growing import into the UK through the port of Immingham, highlighting the speed in which this sector is growing in our region. The Humber ports complex has the capacity to handle huge volumes of imported grains and energy crops, as the biofuels industry expands. These ports also provide an ideal entry into Europe for those looking to export, while the large availability of land in their vicinity provides scope for custom storage and blending facilities.
The region’s strengths in the development of biofuels and chemical feedstocks are enhanced by the co-location of its chemical and petrochemical industries. With a strong agricultural heritage, our region lies right in the middle of the UK’s wheat belt and produces some of the largest crop yields in the UK, with over 500,000 hectares of land for crops and bare fallow. Our world leading chemicals sector is situated around the key biomass/biofuel location in the Humber. Global chemical players include BP, Yara and Conoco Phillips, all with the expertise to extract the speciality chemicals from the feedstocks used for biomass, such as wheat, algae and plants.
Yorkshire and Humber also has one of the largest food and drink sectors in the UK, plus a unique cluster of breweries, all producing plenty of waste material suitable for biomass energy generation.