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Energy Centre opened as Newcastle aims to cut carbon emissions

By Kris Jepson

A new Energy Centre has opened in Newcastle as the City Council aims to cut carbon emissions.

The £20m District Energy Centre at the city’s Helix site will save 30,000 tonnes of carbon over 40 years. That is enough to fill Wembley Stadium 15 times.

The opening comes just days after Newcastle City Council revealed it had slashed its carbon footprint by 13 per cent in the last financial year.

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The new technology will supply heating and cooling to 10 commercial buildings and up to 450 proposed new homes on the Helix site.

One company which is already benefiting from the energy plant is MDNA Life Sciences, which is housed in The Biosphere Building. The firm researches mitochondrial biology and genomics, using groundbreaking discoveries to develop a range of innovative molecular tests to help detect hard to diagnose diseases.

This work is reliant on energy.

We look at diagnostic essays, taking blood samples for things like prostate cancer, endometriosis, or ovarian cancer, so moving into this building has been excellent, because we’ve got a protected freezer farm upstairs where we can store all our samples, where if the power goes down within the city that isn’t affected by it.

– Dr Andrew Harbottle, MDNA Life Sciences
MDNA Life Sciences Credit: ITV News

It is hoped the new centre, which is a joint venture between Newcastle City Council and global energy firm Engie, will be the first of many energy projects from the partnership over the next 40 years.

The centre received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Government's Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

When your electricity comes into your house from the grid, there are huge losses on the transmission and distribution lines across the UK. We’re actually taking it straight from here and putting it straight into those buildings and eradicating those losses.

– Andrew Hart, Engie
Artist's impression of Helix site Credit: Newcastle City Council

Newcastle City Council cut its own emissions by 13 per cent in 2019 and recently signed off plans to clean up air quality, which will involve charging some drivers up to £50 to drive into the city.

The council says today’s opening further underlines its commitment to tackling climate change.

The old combined heat and power plants of the 60s and 70s, which belched out smoke and polluted the atmosphere are long gone. What we’re talking now is modern, clean, green, sustainable technologies, which really do help save money on energy bills and reduce the impact on our environment.

– Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader, Newcastle City Council