The £18 million Gateshead District Energy Centre will use a pair of 2MW gas-powered combined heat and power plants to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes, with the waste heat from the engines used to provide hot water for heating.
It was opened by the minister at a ceremony last week and will be generating heat and power for homes and civic buildings in central Gateshead by the summer.
“This investment in local energy supplies is intended to deliver low-carbon energy at competitive prices for local customers,” said Norman. “It is a great example of the kind of local initiatives our new industrial strategy is looking to support.”
The centre was developed and designed by WSP Parsons Brinckerhof, who also designed the district heating scheme in Olympic Park, London. It has been funded entirely by Gateshead Council. Construction and operating costs are expected to be recouped by energy sales both locally and to the National Grid.
“Our district energy centre is twice as efficient as a conventional power station, and far greener, and we can pass on some of those cost efficiencies to local people and businesses in the form of cheaper heat and power,” said council leader Martin Gannon.