South West’s first energy centre officially unveiled

New video footage has been released today (25 September 2012) marking the end of construction of E.ON's £3 million energy centre serving Exeter's new Skypark and Cranbrook developments. The 30,000 sq ft building, the first of its kind in the South West, is being developed jointly with regeneration specialist St. Modwen at the £210 million Skypark development to the north of Exeter Airport. Around 40 jobs were created during the construction process.

The footage, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/talkingenergy, is made up of hundreds of individual photographs taken throughout the construction phase, from early ground clearance work in January this year to final completion of the building itself, and marks a significant milestone in the project which is one of the key developments forming part of the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point*.

EON Energy Centre Building Completed

Picture: (L-R) Jeremy Bungey, Head of Community Energy at E.ON and Ian Guy, Cllr Andrew Moulding, Deputy Leader, East Devon District Council and Senior Development Manager for St. Modwen in the South West at the South West's first Energy Centre.

Set to be producing heat by spring next year, the E.ON facility will serve as the energy hub for a ground-breaking district heating network that will provide a sustainable and cost-effective source of energy to businesses at Skypark and homes at the neighbouring community of Cranbrook.

Ultimately the energy centre will house efficient combined heat and power engines which will provide heat and hot water 24 hours a day to both developments, with surplus electricity generated being fed back into the national grid. The energy centre will be fuelled at first by natural gas but will develop over time to run on waste wood biomass.

At Skypark, the system will supply heat to manufacturing, industrial and office units at the 1.4 million sq ft sustainable business park. Once fully operational, the district heating system serving all future Skypark occupiers is expected to reduce carbon emissions generated through all heating provision by over 80% compared to traditional gas heating.

At 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 mark the completion of works, project partners watched Ian Guy of St. Modwen, Jeremy Bungey of E.ON and Cllr Andrew Moulding of East Devon District Council plant a tree to represent the wood that will ultimately be used to power the energy centre.

Cllr Andrew Moulding, Deputy Leader East Devon District Council outside the EON Energy Centre

Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St. Modwen in the South West, said: "Developing this facility with E.ON is a positive step forward for Skypark as a sustainable business park, with an innovative heating scheme now set to provide significant energy efficiency savings for future occupiers and reduce overall carbon emissions.

"A total of 40 jobs have already been created through this programme of works and many more are coming forward through the development at Skypark. Within the proposed buildings we expect to create up to 6,500 jobs over the next 20 years.

"With the first new main entrance due for completion in October, Skypark is now firmly open for business. We expect the location of the development near Exeter Airport and within close proximity of the M5 combined with the high quality Business Park environment will prove attractive to occupiers."

Jeremy Bungey, Head of Community Energy at E.ON, said: "The Cranbrook and Skypark developments have sustainable energy built in to their very foundations and I'm delighted that our energy centre is now at the heart of the community, providing a future-proof source of low carbon energy across homes and businesses.

"The beauty of this technology is that we can easily change our energy sources to take advantage of lower cost or lower carbon fuels to give the best option to customers. 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."

Energy Funding 

The Energy Centre is the hub of a 75km district heating network serving both the Skypark and Cranbrook developments which have received funding from Homes and Communities Agency's (HCA) Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund and local authority partners totalling £4.1 million.

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 completion of the Energy Centre in such a short period of time marks another milestone on the phenomenal trajectory of the Growth Point project. The plans for such a massive district heating system, which seemed quite radical only last year, are now being realised and the houses already occupied at Cranbrook are benefiting from this vision. Having seen the benefits, we are now exploring further opportunities in the Exeter area.  However, having a vision is one thing but bringing it into being is quite another matter and the team have done a simply phenomenal job in pulling this off."

Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: "What an amazing year this has been so far for East Devon, not only is our vision of the new community and Skypark business park becoming a reality but so too are our aspirations to deliver them in the most sustainable way possible. I am incredibly proud to be the Leader of a council which has taken on the carbon reduction challenge and to be in partnership with people who can really deliver".

Exeter City Council Leader, Councillor Pete Edwards, said: "This is trail blazing development that points the way to an exciting low carbon future for the city; there are many challenges ahead but this shows what can be accomplished."

For further information on Skypark, visit http://www.skyparkexeter.com/ or http://eon-uk.com/ to find out more about the Energy Centre.

Issued 25 September 2012

Pictures by Tim Pestridge www.timpestridge.co.uk