Work has officially started on an innovative £3 million Energy Centre building by St. Modwen and energy provider, E.ON. The Centre will be built at Skypark, a £210 million development project being delivered by St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist with development partner, Devon County Council.
The Energy Centre building, the first of its kind in the South West, has been designed by E.ON and is being developed jointly with St. Modwen. The 35 week construction programme being carried out by contractor, Dawnus is expected to be completed by September and will generate at least 40 jobs during the construction process.
The 30,000 sq ft Energy Centre will be operated by E.ON and will serve as a hub for a ground-breaking district heating network* that will provide a sustainable and cost-effective source of heat to business units at Skypark and homes at the neighbouring community of Cranbrook, both located within the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point**.
The Energy Centre will house heat and energy turbines, which will provide heat and hot water 24 hours a day to both developments. Surplus electricity generated will be fed back into the national grid. The Energy Centre will be fuelled by a combination of biomass and gas with bio gas potentially replacing natural gas as a source of fuel in future.
At the £210 million Skypark scheme located to the north of Exeter International Airport, the system will supply heat to manufacturing, industrial and office units at the 1.4 million sq ft sustainable Business Park, which is expected to create around 6,500 jobs on completion.
At neighbouring Cranbrook, approximately 2,900 homes will be fuelled through the first phase of residential development. The system could provide an estimated 13,000 tonnes of CO2 savings per year, the equivalent of removing 5,200 cars from the road. It will potentially make Cranbrook one of the largest low carbon communities in the UK to deliver Combined Heat and Power (CHP) to all residents.
To officially mark the start of works, local dignitaries joined representatives from St. Modwen and E.ON at Skypark, located off Junction 29 of the M5.
Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St. Modwen in the South West, said: “Starting work on the Energy Centre is a major development for Skypark as we work with Devon County Council to transform this former airfield into an exemplar Business Park.
“At the beginning of a new year, we are delighted to be moving forward with this programme of works, which will help us progress plans to deliver green and sustainable business opportunities to the South West and through this bring around 6,500 new jobs to support local people and the economy. This programme will be followed in the spring by the start of construction work on a new main entrance to Skypark on Honiton Road.
“As well as the Energy Centre, we will be implementing other green initiatives including travel plans connecting Skypark with Cranbrook and Exeter City to make this development an attractive location for occupiers and employees alike.”
Jeremy Bungey, Head of Community Energy for E.ON's Sustainable Energy business, said: “We are delighted to be starting work on the Energy Centre serving Cranbrook and Skypark, one of the largest in the UK. Not only will it provide local homes and businesses with a sustainable source of heating and hot water but it makes Exeter one of the leaders in decentralised energy provision.”
Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment and Chair of the Exeter and Heart of Devon Growth Board, said: "The start of this work signals our intent to stimulate growth for the whole county and ensures Devon's economy is continuing to recover and grow. The Energy Centre is leading the way as a low carbon development, and the creation of Skypark reinforces our commitment to help create thousands of highly skilled jobs in Devon."
Exeter City Council Leader, Cllr Pete Edwards, said: "This is a clear signal that decentralised energy networks can be delivered and we want to encourage this provision elsewhere in the City. All partners are committed to seeing Exeter manage the transition to a low carbon economy and the construction of the Energy Centre for Skypark and Cranbrook is a very visible manifestation of this objective."
Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “Our development at Skypark and Cranbrook is a national exemplar – a serious attempt to establish district-wide heating and power within both communities. This cutting edge facility is at the very heart of what we aim to achieve, thinking outside the box and future-proofing our development with the most modern, green and yet tried-and-tested technology. As the development gathers pace, today’s launch will stand out as a beacon for our green credentials”.
For further information on Skypark, visit www.skyparkexeter.com or visit www.eon-uk.co.uk to find out more about the Energy Centre.
*In spring 2010, St. Modwen completed an energy supply agreement as part of a partnership between Exeter East Devon Growth Point, energy providers E.ON and the developers of residential development, Cranbrook to secure £4.1 million grant to develop a district heating network serving Skypark and Cranbrook. A combination of £3.7 million grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund (announced in 2009) and further contributions of £400,000 from the local authority partners, together with significant investment from E.ON, St Modwen and Cranbrook’s developers, successfully bridged the funding gap enabling this scheme to go ahead.
**Exeter and East Devon Growth Point – The Exeter and East Devon Growth Point is a long term partnership for growth between the public sector (including East Devon District, Exeter City and Devon County Councils) and private sectors which was established in 2007. The vision is to build sustainable communities in Exeter and East Devon with the aim of providing skilled employment opportunities for residents close to where they will be living. In total the growth programme is expected to deliver around 20,000 new homes and over 25,000 jobs across the Growth Point area over the next 15 to 20 years and is worth well over £1bn