Nuclear and Renewable Industries in Cumbria
Britain’s shift towards a low carbon economy has been embraced in Cumbria like nowhere else through the Britain’s Energy Coast initiative – which aims to transform Cumbria into a major generator of nuclear and renewable energy. Energy opportunities have attracted companies and billions of pounds worth of inward investment from across the globe.
Cumbria has a strong foundation on which to build as home to the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall. Sellafield is currently being decommissioned by Nuclear Management Partners, although fuel reprocessing continues to take place on site. Land adjacent to Sellafield is earmarked for a new power station, developed by consortium NuGeneration Ltd, and on completion Cumbria would have the complete nuclear cycle. The industry is backed by an extensive supply chain of companies, along with leading education and research facilities including Energus; the National Skills Academy for Nuclear; the National Nuclear Laboratory; and the Dalton Cumbria Facility – a teaching and education centre specialising in radiation sciences.
In addition to West Cumbria’s nuclear assets, renewable energy is also developing at a rapid rate across the whole of the County, in particular off-shore wind. The 30-turbine Bowind wind farm (Centrica and Dong Energy) off Walney Island, Barrow, was Cumbria’s first and Walney Wind Farm (Dong Energy and Scottish & Southern Energy) the latest – a 102-turbine development that will produce 1.5GW of energy and support construction and servicing jobs. Further north in the Solway Firth, E.ON’s Robin Rigg windfarm powers around 117,000 homes. There are numerous hydro projects in Cumbria including Coniston Hydro Scheme, with technology provided by Gilbert, Gilkes & Gordon; and tidal barrages are proposed across the Solway Firth and Morecambe Bay.
Back on dry land, Sundog Energy, Penrith, designs and installs solar photovoltaic systems for buildings throughout Britain; Mechanical Biological Treatment municipal waste treatment plants are being constructed in Carlisle and Barrow; and anaerobic digestion plants planned for Silloth and other locations across Cumbria. Barrow is also a nationally important hub for natural gas storage, with capacity at Barrow Gas Terminal set to increase by 30 per cent through the Gateway storage project.
Why not read The Scope for Renewable Energy in Cumbria by Sir Martin Holdgate.