Plans for UK first plastics to hydrogen facility at Protos approved

Peel Environmental – part of Peel L&P – and Waste2Tricity have received unanimous planning consent from Cheshire West & Chester Council for the UK’s first waste plastic to hydrogen facility at the 54-hectare Protos site near Ellesmere Port.

The £7m development will see 14 full time permanent jobs created at Protos with over 100 jobs created in the North West during fabrication and construction.

It will transform how plastic waste is dealt with in the region, treating up to 35 tonnes of unrecyclable plastics a day and using it to create a local source of hydrogen. This hydrogen could be used as a clean fuel for buses, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and cars, helping to reduce air pollution and improve air quality on local roads.

The facility would also generate electricity which could be provided to commercial users via a microgrid at Protos, helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Peel Environmental is looking at developing a closed loop solution at Protos where plastics are recycled on-site with the leftover material used to create hydrogen.

It will be the first plant in the UK to utilise pioneering DMG® (Distributed Modular Generation) technology developed by PowerHouse Energy Group (AIM:PHE) at Thornton Science Park adjacent to Protos.

Myles Kitcher, Managing Director at Peel Environmental – part of Peel L&P – said:

“The creation of this UK-first facility makes great strides to solve two important issues; the huge amount of waste plastic produced, and the over-reliance on fossil fuels for energy. The technology has been proven at Thornton Science Park and will now be commercialised at Protos, before being rolled out across the UK. This is hugely significant for Cheshire and the wider region, demonstrating how we’re rising to the challenge of being the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster and setting a standard for others to follow.”

John Hall, Waste2Tricity said:

“Securing consent for our first facility in the UK is a huge step forward and we’re delighted that Cheshire West & Chester Council has got behind the project. Working with Peel Environmental, we have plans to roll out the technology across the UK.”

The creation of this UK-first facility makes great strides to solve two important issues; the huge amount of waste plastic produced, and the over-reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

David Ryan, CEO of PowerHouse Energy Group (AIM:PHE), said:

“The decision represents a key milestone for PowerHouse Energy after developing the technology alongside Protos at Thornton Science Park. We now look forward to working alongside Peel Environmental to complete funding and deliver the first commercial application of our DMG technology, creating hydrogen from waste plastics and helping to kick start the hydrogen revolution in the North West.”

Following planning consent a start on site is expected in Autumn 2020 with the facility due to be operational in 2021. Last year it was announced that Peel Environmental had signed a Collaboration Agreement with Waste2Tricity and PowerHouse Energy to develop a total of 11 waste plastic to hydrogen facilities across the UK, representing an investment of £130 million.

The Protos strategic energy hub sits within the Energy Innovation District (EID), which is spearheaded by the Cheshire Energy Hub and brings together energy users, network owners, innovators and partners working alongside Cheshire & Warrington LEP, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester. The EID is looking to develop a local, smart energy microgrid which a recent report demonstrated could lead to energy cost savings of up to 25% and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 34%.

Ged Barlow, Chair of the Cheshire Energy Hub:

“The UK is going to require plenty of innovation if it is to meet challenging net zero targets. Projects like this show how in the North West we’re leading the way and it’s great to see yet another UK first project taking place within the Energy Innovation District. The technology is truly innovative and forms part of our plans to deliver local low carbon energy sources.”

The project forms part of the North West’s bid to become the UK’s first low carbon cluster by 2030. The North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster is being led by the North West Business Leadership Team, with support from Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Mayors and the Cheshire & Warrington LEP. In competition with other regions – such as Humber and Teeside – the Cluster could deliver 33,000 jobs, over £4bn investment and save 10 million tonnes of carbon per year.

It is also part of Peel L&P’s wider sustainability commitments and contribution to net zero emissions in the UK. The company has committed to eliminating all single-use plastics across the business within the next five years. It was also recently announced that Peel L&P is the first property company to achieve Net Zero Carbon status using the UK Green Building Council’s 2019 definition for buildings in the UK.

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