Member of Parliament for Weaver Vale Graham Evans officially unveiled Tata Chemicals Europe's new £5.5m steam turbine this week, and declared the investment proof that the area was the 'Gateway to the Northern Powerhouse'.
The project - backed by a £2.5m European Regional Growth Fund grant from the UK government - has taken two years to complete. It will help to provide energy for Tata Chemicals Europe's sites across Cheshire, local businesses in the area, and also for the National Grid. The steam used to generate electricity is a by-product of industrial procedures at the Tata Chemical plant, effectively recapturing spent energy and reducing overall energy demands.
Mr Evans said: "Tata is the largest private employer in the country, and is also a huge employer here in Cheshire. My constituency, Weaver Vale, is the Gateway to the Northern Powerhouse, and this proves that is the case.
"It is very important to have companies investing in people. I am lucky to have Tata in my constituency and Northwich is lucky to have Tata in its town. I am proud as punch."
Generating this electricity means that this volume of electricity doesn't have to be generated elsewhere on the grid—saving 71,000 tonnes of CO2 in the UK, and going a long way to help the Government meet decarbonisation requirements of a 75% reduction by 2030. The Government is seeking to achieve nearly 60% reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 - this type of initiative is a crucial part of making this happen.
Additionally, the project will improve Tata Chemicals' Combined Heat & Power Quality Assurance (CHPQA), and the plant's overall efficiency scores will rise.
An estimated 12MW of electricity is expected to be produced on an ongoing basis and will be exported onto the national grid, which will correspond to over 100,000MWhrs in a typical year. Plans already exist to generate even more electricity from the new infrastructure.
Tata Chemicals Ltd Managing Director R Mukundan: "Industry can be tough. I am often reminded of the line from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair". We have had the support of our communities during the Winters of despair and we want to thank you for being there during our Spring of hope."
Tata Chemicals Europe Managing Director Martin Ashcroft added: "This is an incredibly proud moment for us and our future. Energy could not be more important for all our businesses."
Also involved in the project are energy supplier E.ON, who are a strategic partner in the installation of the turbine and the operation of the Winnington CHP site.
Mike Wake, Head of Business Heat and Power Solutions at E.ON, said: "Working together to maximise the energy efficiency of this site is proof of the great relationship between Tata Chemicals Europe and E.ON.
"Taking advantage of heat energy as steam and using it more effectively means we can help reduce this site's carbon footprint whilst ensuring a chemical works which has been operating since 1874 continues to go from strength to strength in such a commercially challenging time."