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FAQ

1. What's in it for Norwich?

Norwich can further assert its green leadership credentials through the creation of a landmark low carbon development in the city. The proposal would see sustainable electricity generation brought to Norwich and the availability of secure, reliable and more affordable low carbon heating and hot water for Norwich’s homes and businesses. The regeneration of derelict land would create an attractive park with a riverside setting, with new amenities for the city including an easily accessible riverside with moorings and a stop for river passenger services.

Much of this revitalised site, regenerated for the people of Norwich, would be set in parkland with dedicated cycle paths and riverside walkways, improving accessibility to, and through, the area via two new bridges: a vehicle, cycle and pedestrian swing bridge across the river Wensum; and a pedestrian and cycle only bridge to the north into Cremorne Lane. These will provide key links currently missing in Norwich’s existing cycle and pedestrian network.

Generation Park would be a new place for the people of Norwich to visit and enjoy, and of which to be proud. There would be stunning new riverside vistas, café and other retail units, plus a host of outdoor features.

There are many opportunities for local people to participate and shape day-to-day activity at the site, indeed local involvement will be a vital aspect of Generation Park’s success. The ethos behind the project is to create a community project where creativity can flourish. We want to breathe life into an unloved site making it a vibrant space for the exchange of ideas and harnessing it for the use of all local people.

Sited sympathetically with the riverside environment would be 120 low carbon homes, including 33% affordable housing, set in this attractive environment and within easy walking or cycling distance of the city centre.

The proposed low carbon straw-fuelled Community Energy Centre provides the prospect of secure, reliable and more affordable low carbon heating and hot water for businesses and thousands of homes in the city. It would also see the provision of electricity directly to some large city consumers, increasing security of electricity supply at a time when the National Grid, the major energy suppliers and the government are warning about the difficulty of guaranteeing supply in extreme weather conditions. The greater resilience of energy supply to major power users could well help in protecting jobs and attracting more investment to the city in the future. The scheme would provide a useful amount of base-load electricity to the National Grid, also contributing to national energy security.

The proposal will assist the City’s higher and further education providers, the success of which is so important to the local economy. Low carbon student residences are proposed with the prospect of a unique collaboration between the University of East Anglia, Norwich University of the Arts and City College Norwich.

Research and development in energy, engineering and the environment – led by UEA – is proposed as one of the important elements of Generation Park Norwich, and would help place Norwich on the global stage in this crucially important area. Related to this, but open and accessible to all, will be an Education Centre. This will raise awareness by showcasing the way we generate and use energy and the implications of that use on our planet. It could inform residents, organisations, businesses, schools – across the city and county – about how best to manage their use of energy.

Generation Park would provide 500 jobs during construction, and the opportunity for local businesses to supply the project. Once the development is operational, there would be in excess of 100 jobs on the site, with secondary employment generated elsewhere. Generation Park Norwich will also offer local youngsters skills training for the low carbon energy and engineering related jobs of the future.

The whole project would represent inwards investment of £370m to Norwich. It would raise the profile of Norwich as a dynamic and forward-looking city. The proposed research work into clean sustainable energy would enhance the prospects of new further inward investment becoming an even bigger boost to the local economy.

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2. What might Generation Park Norwich contain?

It is proposed it would have a Community Energy Centre encompassing a Combined Heat and Power unit (CHP; incorporating a District Heating Scheme). It could also include an Energy Research and Development Centre, led by UEA, a Data Centre and an Education Centre for visitors and schools. In addition there are plans for about 120 low carbon homes, of which one third would be affordable. There would also be accommodation for 717 students from UEA, NUA and City College Norwich.

The proposals also include 1 km of riverside walks and around 750 metres of dedicated cycle paths linking into the existing Sustrans network. There would be a new swing bridge across the river Wensum for necessary vehicle access, as well as pedestrians and cyclists, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Norwich to Yarmouth railway line leading into Cremorne Lane.

There would also be extensive areas of landscaping forming a park and enhanced ecological habitat next to the market residential housing at the east of the site.

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3. Is the Community Energy Centre just incineration by a different name?

Categorically no. We are not proposing to build an incinerator. Over the last 30 years incineration has come to mean the burning of household and commercial waste often without energy recovery. The Community Energy Centre would not be built to burn waste nor would it ever be licensed to burn waste; it would be neither legally nor technically possible to use the plant for waste incineration.

The proposed co-configuration of the main operational straw pellet direct combustion CHP and the much smaller straw pellet gasification developmental unit will not allow the facility to operate as household/commercial waste-to-energy plant either from a regulatory or practical perspective. The fuel handling system (front end of the gasification plant) could not handle waste, the boiler for the main combustion plant (middle part) into which the syngas from the gasifier would be fed, would be severely damaged if combustion of a waste derived syngas was attempted, the flue gas clean up system (back end of the plant) is not designed for treating emissions from waste combustion and thus could never receive an Environmental Permit to do so. To reiterate, the configuration of the technology proposed at Generation Park could not thermally treat waste and incineration of waste plays no part in this green and renewable vision proposed for Norwich.

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4. Why is the Community Energy Centre such a good thing?

The Community Energy Centre would generate energy in the form of power (electricity) and heat. The latter would be fed into a District Heating System which would provide heat to residential, institutional and commercial properties across the city. The utilisation of both power and heat significantly increases the efficiency of the facility.

On the power side, the Community Energy Centre would produce reliable, low carbon electricity – enough power for 88,000 homes (based on audited data). The electricity would be made available for Norwich businesses and to supply the local grid at a time when there are concerns about the nation’s electricity supply. This would help safeguard jobs and ensure there is power for future economic development.

The Community Energy Centre would include a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, which would integrate the production of electricity and heat in one single efficient process. When electricity is produced through most conventional thermal technologies there is usually a significant amount of heat generated; but in the majority of power stations up to two thirds of the energy is lost as heat. CHP is far more efficient because the heat is captured and used for heating homes and businesses.

The CHP unit combined with energy produced by the gasification would generate 49.9MW of electricity. By utilising heat for district heating, this CHP unit would operate at efficiency levels over 70%. By comparison a traditional coal-fired power station achieves a much less favourable level of around 37% efficiency, and a modern gas fired power station operates at around 55% efficiency. Furthermore both the coal and gas power stations only work with irreplaceable fossil fuels, whereas the straw to be used in the Generation Park Norwich Community Energy Centre is renewable, sustainable and very low carbon.

Around 12MW(t) of heat from the CHP units will be harnessed for the District Heating Scheme.

The Community Energy Centre will also include a natural gas resilience unit in order to guarantee heat availability to the district heating network in the unlikely event of a break in supply from the CHP units.

All emissions from the Community Energy Centre will pass through a flue gas cleaning system before discharge to the atmosphere from a single efficient chimney.

Norwich, in common with the rest of the UK, is facing a potential crisis in its electricity supply. In October 2014 the National Grid warned of the pressures it is facing to meet demands and to guarantee security of supply. The UK is facing an energy gap over the next 20 years as older, mainly fossil fuelled power stations are decommissioned. National newspaper headlines increasingly warn of the danger of ‘the lights going out’. Ofgem’s Winter Outlook 2014-2015 report highlighted the very low margin of supply of power over demand, to the extent that a cold spell could lead to power outages (The Electrical Times, 29 October 2014, ‘When the lights go out’).

Generation Park Norwich’s Community Energy Centre would contribute electricity to the nation’s base-load capacity and produce power continuously, unlike intermittent renewable sources such as wind or solar.

Whilst additional capacity is being introduced nationally, including gas-fired plant and renewable energy plants, there is an issue in that many cities, including Norwich, have limited capacity to take electricity from the National Grid without significant investment. This is already inhibiting growth and economic development in some areas. By providing power directly to some large businesses in Norwich, the Community Energy Centre would provide security of supply and help safeguard existing jobs and contribute to future prosperity by increasing the attractiveness of the city for future inward investment.

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5. How long has the idea for the development existed?

The site was first identified for energy generation from ‘biomass’ (of which straw pellets are a form) in the City of Norwich Local Plan in 2004. The continuity of planning policy around decentralised renewable energy continued in successive public planning policy documents and has been reaffirmed in the latest Norwich Local Plan, adopted December 2014. This latest plan seeks “to maximise the use of renewable and low carbon energy sources including the provision of district wide heating and CHP (Combined Heat and Power)”.

Accordingly, some form of biomass energy plant has been considered by the Local Authorities to transform the old Utilities Site since the approved Local Plan of 2004. There is an account of the origin of the project on the Genesis Page on the Generation Park Norwich website.

In 2004 a report was commissioned from Buro Happold by EEDA in conjunction with the Local Authorities in 2007, which included public consultation and voting on a number of development options for the site. In that report is the statement: “The principle of a biomass scheme … is supported by existing policy and work currently undertaken by CRed (the Community Carbon Reduction Programme) and the UEA to further establish the feasibility of this project so it was considered that the IOA [Initial Options Assessment] should not prejudice the project at this stage. Based on this a ‘with’ and ‘without’ biomass scenario was developed … for the draft and final hybrid options. It has been represented exactly as presented to the consultant team by CRed and UEA”.

The continuity of strategic planning is reflected in the Revised East Norwich Guidance Note of August 2010 presented by Norwich City Council, the Broads Authority, South Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council for the area which includes the Utilities Site. This report includes as an appendix a summary of reports on the location funded by DCLG. The report indicates that development proposals for this site “should minimise contributions to climate change”, make “good use of opportunities for decentralised and renewable or low carbon energy”, and be an “exemplar sustainable development scheme”. In 2013, the Norwich Local Plan (Appendix 17) refers to “power generation” and the “future power station”.

This evidences that exactly the type of development represented by the current proposal for Generation Park Norwich has been included in public strategic planning documents for at least a decade.

http://www.norwich.gov.uk/Planning/Documents/Initialoptionsassessment.pdf

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6. Why build it in the city?

The Utilities Site is an excellent location for a low carbon scheme comprising a Community Energy Centre, amenities and housing, things that are only needed – and can only be of use – near a population centre. The District Heating Scheme relies on a network of underground pipes to deliver the heat and hot water straight into homes and businesses.

Since the 1960s the generation of power in the UK has been largely concentrated in big power plants close to the coalfields that supplied the fuel. Before that, many cities had their own coal power stations - as did Norwich on this very site. The movement to very large power stations near coalfields came with problems because the majority of power is used in cities (i.e. not close to the power stations) and there are losses during the transmission of energy from generator to consumer. These losses are reduced if the electricity is generated close to where it is used, making a compelling case for a city-based energy centre.

The proposal would see work undertaken to breathe life into a derelict site giving it a new lease of life and creating a beautiful riverside park for the benefit of all the people of Norwich and Norfolk. 

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7. How would district heating benefit local residents? How can I benefit?

Residents would have access to secure, reliable and more affordable low carbon heat and hot water.

Although some boilers may be retained in existing commercial/industrial buildings for standby since they would not be used in the normal course of events, there will be significant savings on maintenance and replacement. In new build developments, be that commercial, industrial or residential, no local heat generation boilers will be installed. The buildings will receive all their heat and hot water from the Energy Centre and the dedicated resilience infrastructure, safe in the knowledge and comfort that they have a performance guarantee to maintain the supply.

For existing residential properties which are connected to the district heating network, they will have their existing heat generation boilers removed and replaced with a Heat Interface Unit which looks and operates like a traditional boiler. The Heat Interface Unit will be fully maintained by E.ON and therefore residents will not have to worry about on-going maintenance and future replacements. They will also have a performance guarantee to maintain the heat and hot water supply.

This means thousands of individual boilers, most near ground level, will not be operating, and so will not be contributing their emissions to the air we all breathe.

If you would like to know more please contact the team at E.ON via the email address on the District Heating page. More

8. Would all the roads need digging up to install the district heating network?

There would need to be a programme of laying underground pipes but the works programme would be designed to keep disruption to a minimum. Once buried the pipes would be a considerable long-term infrastructure asset for the city.

9. Would air quality be affected by the Community Energy Centre?

Emissions would be regulated by planning and the Environment Agency, with a continuous programme of monitoring. The independent consultants report included in the planning application finds that impacts on air quality at ground level (whatever the elevation of the ground) from the Community Energy Centre would be negligible and emissions will not cause a breach of any Air Quality Objective or Environmental Assessment Level.

There will be modern clean-up technology in the Community Energy Centre. The remaining pollution which is emitted will be released into a part of the atmosphere which is much more dispersive than at ground level.

Eventually the district heating network will replace thousands of existing old, inefficient boilers (and will obviate the need for the installation of many new ones) which release pollution at or close to the ground at a level where we breathe, but in the assessment of air pollution from the Community Energy Centre no attempt has been made to account for this reduction in ground level emissions.

The planning submission for the Community Energy Centre includes analysis of the dispersion of any emissions to demonstrate that there would be no negative impact on Norwich and the wider environment. There are regulations governing the design of the exhaust filtering systems and the height of the flue of the energy centre; this would be specified to ensure that not only are the emissions minimised but that they are also controlled in a manner that does not impact in any way on residents, near or far.

There would be a continuous programme of both statutory and independent monitoring to ensure compliance with air quality standards and the protection of the local environment, including both the Local Authorities and Environment Agency as regulatory bodies.

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10. This seems reassuring, but why do some people appear to be so concerned about pollution?

There is gross misinformation circulating about pollution from the Community Energy Centre. The reality is that the impacts on air quality will be negligible and the possible impact under the “worst-worst” assumed circumstances - even at the geographical point of maximum impact - will be barely detectable from, and swamped by, exposure to pollutants from other sources, including traffic and pollutants generated in the home from domestic activity. The levels of pollutants of potential concern in the typical home are likely to be orders of magnitude greater (100s, 1000s times) than those contributed by the community energy centre.

For those who are interested in more detail, please email info@generationparknorwich.com for a fuller scientific paper. This document also addresses some of the alarmist claims made by some people about dioxin emissions.

11. Might there be noise from the Community Energy Centre?

The facility would be designed to ensure that it would cause no noise disturbance. It will be required to operate within strict noise criteria set and regulated by the local planning authority. The adoption of best practice during the construction phase will mean that there is no likely significant noise effect.

As part of the assessment baseline noise monitoring during the day and night (including a weekend period) was undertaken at three locations on the Utilities Site and at four locations outside the site. As far as on-site residential receptors are concerned (student accommodation and housing), adoption of suitable mitigation measures will ensure that resultant noise levels are within appropriate guidance and standards.

12. Might there be any smell from the Community Energy Centre?

No. The effect of operational phase odour and dust emissions is considered to be negligible.

All operations would be conducted within enclosed buildings and train wagons will deposit the straw pellets into an enclosed handling facility. The straw pellets would be dry. Odours are not likely to occur and, if they do on occasion that will not be unpleasant or at a level which will cause annoyance. The risk of fugitive dust emissions is also low.

As part of an Environmental Permit for the Community Energy Centre all emissions including dust and odours will be controlled.

13. What might the Community Energy Centre look like?

The whole development would be architecturally pleasing, in tune with the riverside setting close to the city centre and at the boundary of Whitlingham Country Park. The relationship of the buildings one to the other, their shape, the cladding materials used and the overall morphology of the development would be carefully designed to ensure a balanced appearance respectful of its surroundings.

14. Might there be hundreds of lorries in the city during construction?

There is a need for construction traffic but disruption would be minimised with most traffic being outside peak periods.
Traffic would arrive in Norwich from the south and turn off at the County Hall roundabout. It is planned that the construction traffic will then turn left on the railway bridge, using the Lafarge entrance to access the utilities site via a new swing bridge over the River Wensum. Construction traffic will not, therefore, enter into Trowse. The flow of construction traffic will be phased to minimise additions to the County Hall roundabout at peak times.

15. What happens if the approved housing development on the Deal Ground does not go ahead?

Generation Park Norwich will depend on the new swing bridge over the River Wensum, and this will go ahead irrespective of progress of the separate development on the Deal Ground.

16. Once Generation Park Norwich is up and running, will there be a big increase in road traffic at the County Hall roundabout?

One of the advantages of developing the Utilities Site is that it will fill the important strategic gap in cycle and pedestrian links between the city centre, and areas to the north and east, including Thorpe St Andrew and Trowse – as shown on the maps on the Future page. This will help reduce some road traffic. More generally, the majority of the proposed development is unlikely to generate much traffic. Due to the fact vehicle access limited to the southern gateway solely, overall traffic to the site will be minimised and there will be other measures such as limited allocation of parking spaces and potential initiatives such as a car club.

As the proposal develops full account will be taken of concerns about traffic flow around the County Hall roundabout. Initial traffic modelling indicates that the contribution of traffic associated with Generation Park Norwich to the roundabout traffic at peak times will be around 1.5 vehicles per minute.

Of course, the straw pellets for the Community Energy Centre will be delivered by train and the ash from the combustion process will be removed by just three HGVs per day.

The two proposed residential development schemes in Trowse and the one on the Deal Ground have been accounted for within the calculation of the baseline future year traffic flows.More

17. Are there better uses for straw such as ploughing it back in or for animal bedding?

The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (previously the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) confirms that of the annual total of around 12.2 million tonnes of straw, 2 million tonnes could be used for energy generation without any significant impact on existing agricultural practices or deleterious effect on soils. The report Straw Incorporation Review, HGCA Research Review no. 81; F. Nicholson et al., 2014 was an objective review of more than 150 of the most pertinent publications, many of them peer-reviewed. The review is, therefore, based on the most relevant up-to-date knowledge with the conclusions being solidly evidence-based.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) assesses that more, in fact 4 million tonnes of straw per year, could be utilised for energy production (www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenergy/181/181vw08.htm). The NFU also sees the use of straw for energy as a positive step for arable farmers, including it having the benefit of creating a market for oilseed rape straw for which there are few existing uses. Amongst the steps the NFU are taking to encourage and support the use of straw for energy are: collaboration with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board to produce a code of conduct covering soil protection; innovative equipment modifications and the reduction of straw wastage.

Of the 12.2 million tonnes annual total of straw, around 7.7 million tonnes is wheat straw and 1.4 million tonnes is from oilseed rape. Barley straw is more in demand than wheat straw from the livestock sector; it is a better feedstuff for ruminants and better bedding for pigs. The Community Energy Centre in Norwich would not use barley straw. Straw used for energy is mainly wheat with some oilseed rape. The Generation Park Norwich Community Energy Centre would require about 250,000 tonnes each year.

There are a number of straw power stations operational and planned in the UK; when these, including the proposed Generation Park Norwich Community Energy Centre, are operational they would take about 1.3 million tonnes, still well short of the total available for energy.

Currently around 5 million tonnes of straw is used for bedding, and around 2 million tonnes is incorporated into the soil. Of interest is the fact that some (~80,000 tonnes) is exported - much of it from Norfolk – and about half is used for energy generation in other countries.

Friends of the Earth supports the use of cereal straw for energy production, and especially for district heating schemes, providing that sufficient straw is ploughed back into the soil. Generation Park Norwich is firmly of the view that sufficient straw should continue to be ploughed back in, although there is a shortage of hard evidence about the relative benefits. As Nicholson et al point out, there have been anecdotal suggestions that straw incorporation improves soil quality, workability and yields, but there is little real evidence to back that up, especially in the short term. Field experiments have shown increases in soil organic matter are small and only apparent after a number of years. Soil’s physical condition also seems to improve but only after many years of repeated additions. Experiments rarely detect significant differences in yield as a result of straw incorporation.

Generally a more effective way to maintain or improve the levels of soil organic matter is by adding solid livestock manures, compost or bio-solids. Straw incorporation can return significant amounts of phosphate (P), potash (K) and magnesium (Mg) to the soil but, as advised by the HGCA, especially where soil nutrient levels are not too low, the net nutrient value of straw incorporation may be less to the farmer than baling and selling it. The influence of straw incorporation on disease and pest damage also needs to be considered. For example, too much straw in a field can, under some circumstances, encourage slug infestation which can destroy a crop.

An individual farm’s circumstances, including geographical location, is an important factor in the decision as to whether it is more beneficial to plough straw back in than bale and sell. In many cases it makes sense for farmers to bale and sell straw for energy purposes; moreover farmers are quite capable of deciding the suitable proportion of their total cereal-growing land they would like to bale and sell from, and what proportion they would like to incorporate straw back into, on a long-term basis.

The AHDB wants to get decision-making about whether to bale and sell for energy or incorporate back into the soil onto an evidence-based, non-emotive basis and has produced a decision tree, featured in Crop Production Magazine, April 2014 to help farmers with this choice. In the same article it writes that many “people believe there’s a morality issue in selling straw rather than incorporating it”; in reality there is “nothing wrong and (you) could even have done the world a favour”.

One of the objectives for Generation Park Norwich is to work with agricultural research centres and farmers to advance understanding of the best long-term utilisation regimes for straw, on farms, and more widely to strike a sustainable balance in the use of this resource for the protection of other valuable resources such as the soil and the atmosphere. This will help strike a more sustainable inter-connection between urban areas, and their demand for energy, and country.

The availability of appropriate biomass for energy in this country is not limited. However, a potentially important contribution to greater sustainability on the global scale which Generation Park Norwich can make is though the research and development straw pellet gasification CHP unit. If this can be successfully up-scaled to around 10MW, then this efficient technology can be deployed in regions such as East and South East Asia where the availability of suitable biomass material is great. More

18. Would it not still be better to plough straw back into the ground from a carbon saving perspective?

Straw incorporation has limited potential for carbon sequestration. Studies show that greater (about seven-fold) environmental savings can be made by using straw for energy generation, leading to larger reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to coal burning, than by savings made through carbon sequestration from straw incorporation (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, 2012).

Visit the AHDB website at: http://www.ahdb.org.uk/projects/Straw.aspx

19. Can the supply of fuel be guaranteed?

NPH has formed a company called Pelcowhich is planning the construction of pelletising plants at a number of locations in England, including at Ely, where planning was approved in August 2015. The new plant should be in operation by June 2017 and will process around 150,000 tonnes of wheat and oilseed rape straw each year gathered from farms within a 50 mile radius, starting with the 2017 harvest. This is only the first of at least five plants to be built by Pelco across the country providing a major new market for farmers’ straw.

Farmers will be able to benefit from the value of their straw with long term Pelco contracts which are now available from next harvest. Farmers within a radius of 50 miles from Ely will be the first to be able to engage in this opportunity and should contact Pelco to find out more.

Pelco is working very closely with the whole farming industry – landowners, farmers, agronomists, contractors and hauliers - to create a sustainable and professional supply chain for straw. Future pelleting plants are planned for Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Hertfordshire, and are likely to come on stream at the rate of one a year. Pelco are already talking to farmers in these areas and are starting to agree contracts.

Straw pellets are produced by a combined process of grinding, pressure and heat. The use of straw pellets as fuel is far cleaner and lower carbon than traditional fossil fuels and so will play an important part in reducing the UK’s carbon footprint.

The National Farmers’ Union recognises that widening out the supply area – possible with the pelletisation of straw - is an effective way of ensuring security of supply for Norwich.

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20. Does the NFU support the use of straw as fuel?

Yes. In written evidence submitted to the Energy and Climate Change Committee in April 2013, the NFU stated: “We would like to see a commitment to a significant proportion of UK biomass power needs being met from domestically-produced wood, straw and energy crops… It is only logical that the UK should source a proportion of national energy needs from a domestic resource over which we have a reasonable degree of economic and environmental control… The NFU believes that DECC should set an ambition for the level of domestic virgin biomass feedstock supply, of the order of 10 million tonnes per annum by 2020. As the NFU has previously proposed to both DECC and Defra, this could comprise 4 Mt of straw.”

Read the report at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenergy/181/181vw08.htm

Mike Hambly, National Chairman of NFU’s Combinable Crops Board supported the straw-pelleting initiative by Pelco and Generation Park Norwich, “This is another good opportunity in renewable energy providing a valuable additional margin for hard pressed arable farmers. Pelco are approaching the market in a sensible and mature way”.

21. Might any other renewable energy sources be incorporated into the site?

Yes; other renewable sources would be utilised where appropriate such as solar photovoltaic systems installed on rooftops at Generation Park Norwich.

We would also readily consider other opportunities to introduce appropriate renewable and low energy technologies. For example, this would be an excellent location for the extraction of heat from river water, something which Norwich City Council is considering.

As part of the residential development we would offer to help people manage their use of energy to reduce their overall energy consumption. This is another way in which the project would be a beacon of low carbon living.

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22. How is Norwich’s carbon footprint going to be reduced?

The whole Generation Park proposal has been planned to be low carbon, to help develop low carbon ways of thinking, to research and develop new low carbon techniques, train young people for the low carbon jobs of the future, and to raise awareness of the importance of adopting low carbon practices. Over the years, Generation Park Norwich could be responsible for many innovations and initiatives which reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the most important of the global warming gases, the increase of which in the atmosphere leads to climate change.

The Community Energy Centre is at the heart of this low carbon initiative. When operational the Centre will reduce Norwich’s carbon footprint by about 22% on the basis of electricity consumption. As the District Heating Network develops, providing more affordable heating and hot water to businesses and homes, the City’s carbon footprint will be reduced further.

We have utilised data collected from all Local Authorities and published by DECC (Department for Energy & Climate Change) to establish the level of carbon savings for people in Norwich. The calculation is based on the methodology which all Local Authorities use to report their annual carbon emissions to the government.

Wind and solar do not have the base-load capacity for energy generation, nor could they provide a district heating network. Their intermittent supply of electricity would make them unfeasible to install them at the Utilities Site. Moreover, generating electricity close to major consumers means that transmission losses are low.

Straw is a particularly good form of biomass for energy generation, since it is a by-product of food production, and the same amount of carbon dioxide is absorbed by a growing stalk of straw as was released into the atmosphere by combusting a stalk of straw the previous year.

Of all of the technologies, biomass is the only one which has the potential to go ‘carbon negative’ in combination with carbon capture and storage/utilisation (CCSU). Wind and solar (and tide) do not have this potential.

Going ‘carbon negative’ is a long-term aspiration, and one of the research and development objectives for UEA at Generation Park Norwich.

Another long-term research and development objective is to produce a reliable high quality stream of ‘syngas’ via biomass gasification. This can be fed into a gas engine or turbine, hence increasing generation efficiency further. A reliable source of high quality syngas also raises the prospect of supplementing the natural gas supply with a lower carbon source, and using the existing natural gas infrastructure.

Norwich can play a crucial role at the global level in respect of biomass gasification. There are large sources of suitable by-product biomass in many countries. The availability of commercially-viable biomass gasification units at appropriate scale would be a significant advance in reducing carbon emissions.

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23. Is the site prone to flooding?

The last time the site flooded was in 1912, as a result of an unusual combination of exceptionally heavy rain, a blockage at the railway bridge and a push back of water from the North Sea. The Environment Agency has maintained the flood map for the site which indicates that where there are no flood defences, part of the site could be flooded on a 1 in 100 year probability. We shall be working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that the site and its operation are effectively protected from this risk.

The elevation of the site will be re-shaped to give complete protection to parts of the site. On other parts of the site where there is the possibility of occasional flooding, protection measures will include some of the buildings being on stilts. This is seen as a distinct advantage since it provides the opportunity for creating diverse habitats. It is also a good opportunity for awareness raising about adaptation to climate change; large parts of the world are already having to take measures for increased risk of flooding.

24. What about contamination from the old power station and gas plants?

The site obviously has industrial history with significant power generation and gas works previously located there. Independent consultants have conducted preliminary investigations; they found no significant contamination. More detailed work will of course be undertaken but there is nothing to indicate any issues.

25. The site has an important history. Will you be attempting to record it at all before it takes on its new look?

We are collecting together all photographs, films and records that we can, and will make them available to anyone interested.

26. What happens to the Heat in the summer months?

The energy system has been optimised to maximise the efficiency of the whole energy generation process, both heat and power. Within the design, a large thermal storage tank will be utilised that will effectively “charge” in times when the heat demand is low (summer) which can then be released onto the District Heating Network when demand requires it. Furthermore, as is commonly used elsewhere on other District Heating schemes in the UK, we will be looking to provide summer cooling to buildings through absorption chilling technology. By using this proven technology it creates a steady demand for heat in the summer periods and ensures we maximise the carbon benefits against using electric chilling plant for air conditioning.

 

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