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Business & Economy

Durham energy firm eyes national expansion with £12 million power plant

A County Durham-based renewable energy company has secured land and planning permission for an ambitious new power plant — and it could be operational as early as October 2020.

Platinum Energy Solutions (PES), which is part of the Chester-le-street based Platinum Assets Group, will deliver a gas-fired peaking plant at Southbrook Farm in Sudbrook, South Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining an existing solar farm at the site.

PES hopes that the proposed £12 million power station will bridge the gap between fossil fuel and renewable energy, helping to generate national interest in the renewables sector.

According to plans submitted for the new site, the standby generating station will have capacity to create around 20 megawatts (20MW) of energy from ten 40-foot containerised Combine-Cycle Gas Generator Sets, providing electricity to the local area during times of peak demand.

So far, the project has received support from a number of government grants and initiatives and is currently considered a matter of national importance by the Welsh Assembly.

Peter Eagle, managing director at PES, said: “A new phase for the sector is now underway and we are seeing the most innovative and ambitious project developers diversifying into these new areas.

“By harnessing optimisation services, they are able to ensure that they can compete to supply the balancing and ancillary services now required by National Grid.

“While battery storage is perhaps the most obvious form of diversification for independent generators, investing in gas ‘peakers’ and other forms of flexible generation has been one of the key trends we’ve observed during the past year.”

Tony Hughes, chairman of Platinum Assets, added: “£36.6 million was invested by existing energy entrepreneurs in peaking plants that delivered electricity during 2018 — a significant proportion of the £106.9 million total investment in gas peakers delivered last year.

“We are hoping to make significant returns to our investors with our unique model of delivering these assets.

“As one of only three plants consented in Wales, we are hopeful that we are leading the race in harnessing the technology and natural resources available to help with the transition from large scale coal- and gas-burning power plants to renewable technologies.”

The power plant could be operational as early as October 2020, with permission to run for up to 30 years, until an agreement for a long-term strategy is reached.