TYRES, landfill and coal might seem a rather unlikely combination when it comes to the key ingredients of a green industrial future.
But those attending Energy and Environment North East 2012 – a major event bringing together leading businesses from the region’s energy and environmental sectors – will discover just how they could have an important role to play in the region’s future.
The event, which is billed as the biggest of its kind in the region, is being organised by the Energy and Environmental Industries Forum (EEIF) and is themed around the Great North Revolution.
It will showcase how the region is at the forefront of the low-carbon agenda with a raft of exciting projects and world-leading technologies being developed capable of creating thousands of new jobs and attracting millions in investment. The event will feature presentations from three of the region’s biggest low-carbon projects.
Richard Tweddle, manager of PYReco, will talk about his Teesside-based company’s £85m plant which is due to be built at Wilton later this year.
Once completed, it will be the first facility capable of recycling used tyres into their constituent parts, which include carbon black, steel, oil and gas.
The carbon black can be sold back to tyre manufacturers to use in new tyres, as well as to plastic manufacturers.
The high-tensile steel found in tyres can also be sold on, with the rising price of metals making it a sought-after commodity.
Oil and gas recovered from the process will be used to generate electricity on the Wilton site.
Meanwhile, Lisa Jordan of Air Products, will talk about her company’s 49MW waste to energy plant near Billingham, which will divert non-recyclable waste from landfill and offer an environmentally-friendly solution for producing electricity.
Longer term, this Teesside plant has the potential to generate a renewable source of hydrogen for commercial use, such as fuelling public transport.
The Air Products facility will be one of the first advanced gasification plants of this size in the UK, using technology already used in other countries and proven as an efficient and environmentally friendly way of producing energy from waste.
It will produce electricity for up to 50,000 homes and help diversify the UK’s energy mix with new sustainable energy solutions.
The company is looking to create 50 direct permanent, jobs for ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility, which is due to start operating in late 2013/early 2014. Dr Dermot Roddy, whose ambition is to establish the North East as a trailblazer on the journey to the low-carbon economy of the future, will unveil his company’s plans to recover the North Sea’s untapped coal reserves.
Newcastle-based business Five-Quarter says there is enough coal left under the sea to power the world for five years using a process known as underground coal gasification.
London-based investment bank Numis Securities has been appointed to help raise an initial £30m to launch the production process.
Five-Quarter hopes to be producing energy within two years. Within a decade, with the operation in full production, it believes it will be employing thousands of people directly and indirectly.
And with one eye on the region’s mining heritage Five-Quarter says it will establish a trust, using a proportion of its profits to fund improvements and economic regeneration work in the region’s rundown former mining communities.
Last year Five-Quarter secured approval from the UK Coal Authority to recover reserves in a 400sq km area of the North Sea, stretching from the mouth of the Tyne up to Alnmouth.
It paid over £10,000, with the Coal Authority allowed to take royalties as the two billion tonnes of coal reserves are recovered.
The company is now at the stage where it needs major investment which will come through a flotation or private equity investment or a combination of both. It is also hopeful of receiving cash assistance from Brussels.
Nikki Silcock, director of the EEIF, said: “These are three of the biggest low-carbon projects anywhere in the UK.
“Each is pioneering cutting edge technology and it’s fantastic they are located in the North East.
“We’re fortunate to have a vibrant and developing low-carbon goods and environmental services sector. We have a good infrastructure, a strong skills base, many exciting businesses and a real opportunity to ensure the region is at the forefront of future growth.
“The North East is one of the most advanced regions in the UK’s green energy sector and we cannot ignore the fact that it’s one of the fastest growing areas of the economy at the moment.
“There are in excess of 1,000 businesses in the region specialising in the energy saving and environmental sector and this forum is a great way for firms to get together and talk about new ideas as well as secure future business opportunities.
“We’re labelling this conference as the North East’s green revolution because I want to link it to the region’s booming industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.
“It’s all about transforming the old industries into modern technologies and more greener ideas.
“We have real potential to play a leading role in the green revolution and this event gives people an opportunity to come together to share ideas, develop new business opportunities and ideas.
“The amount of jobs these new technologies can create is absolutely huge and it could act as a solution to the region’s crippling unemployment rate.
“We’re an industrious, hard-working lot up here and we’re famous for it. We just need the right industry to really get our teeth stuck into.”
Other speakers at the event include Steven Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited and Edward Twiddy, chief executive of the new North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership, who will look at how the new LEPs will contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy.
The day will conclude with a panel debate which will give delegates an opportunity to discuss key issues and debate how the North East will establish itself as a green hub for Europe.
A number of sponsorship and exhibition packages remain with those already signed up for the event including Northumbrian Water, Cundall, Narec, Fabrick, SITA and Patrick Parsons.
Energy and Environment North East is the second annual conference organised by the EEIF.
The organisation is a membership body representing the North East’s low- carbon environmental goods and services sector, which numbers around 1,000 businesses, and is keen to hear from anyone interested in exhibiting or attending the event.