One year on since the launch of Protos, which is part of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, exciting progress has been made.

Cogen’s Protos biomass facility is in the final stages of commissioning and by spring 2018 will be producing 21MW of energy from waste timber. The £100M facility uses recovered waste wood provided by a timber recycling plant, also located at Protos and uses an Advanced Conversion Technology (ACT) process to convert circa 170,000 tonnes per annum into clean renewable energy, which has the potential to power around 40,000 homes.

Since 2014, Protos has been a member of the Cheshire Energy Hub, an energy sector support organisation funded and strategically driven by industry. Over the past 12 months Protos has been key to itsdevelopment of an Energy Innovation District, an exemplar energy cluster responding to the Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies.

Protos’ development director Jane Gaston said: “Our work within the Energy Innovation District means we can help shape an industrial strategy committed to lowering energy costs, improve industrial competitiveness and provide the talent pool to support industry. It is a nationally significant opportunity which could create around £2.3 bn GVA per year.”

Balancing commercial development with a responsible vision is integral to the 133 acre site wide master plan. The completed first phase of development has created a 50 acre nature reserve as well as accessible green space for the general public to enjoy. Through a partnership with Cheshire Wildlife Trust we have agreed that they will manage and maintain these areas with the aim of enhancing and improving the natural capital in the area.

Peel Environmental has strong links with the local community. Its local community forum has been running since 2011 through which the Protos team has fostered a positive and open working relationship with key representatives from around the area. Regular forum meetings and a community benefit fund are at the heart of this. Since the fund opened, around £60,000 has been provided for local community projects which have directly benefitted local schools, community buildings and organisations.

Jane adds: “With our impressive site signage now installed and our official launch just 12 months ago Protos is truly open for business. We are firmly at the forefront of energy, innovation and industry but we’re equally proud of what we’re contributing to support and improve the wider community.”