Slough may not be considered by many to be at the heart of the renewable energy revolution, but the work we’re doing there offers a real glimpse of the future.
Back in 2008, SSE acquired Slough Heat and Power (SHP), a company that provides electricity and water to the Slough Trading Estate, once famously home to David Brent and the Wernham Hogg paper company (although not really, obviously). In addition to these infrastructure networks, SHP owns and operates a biomass plant, burning waste wood to generate clean, affordable energy, and steam and heat to the estate as a biproduct.
My tour of the facility brought to life SSE’s whole systems approach to a net zero future – sustainable power generation using locally sourced waste products, using the latest tech and by people with a passion for what they do.
Indeed, it was during our safety briefing by Aaron Zuill and his team, on arrival for our site tour that I was reminded that our people are at the heart of what we do. The talented team at SHP wear their strict adherence to the health and safety guidelines as a badge of honour, and rightly so. The complex facility they manage and operate, after all, provides power, steam and water to the largest privately-owned industrial estate in Europe, covering over 486 acres and over 500 businesses.
And we continue to innovate, there’s no standing still. SSE are currently investing £400M in a new state of the art energy-from-waste facility which is expected to be fully operational by 2024. Once complete, it will have an electricity generation capacity of nearly 50MW - the equivalent of meeting the annual energy requirements of 18,000 homes - and will be capable of processing approximately 480,000 tonnes of waste-derived fuels annually.
We should also be proud to support the provision of power to the largest and fastest growing cluster of data centres in Europe. The Slough Trading Estate was the birthplace of the Mars Bar in 1932 but in the future, it’ll be a different kind of byte we’ll be powering the production of.
Renewable energy power stations, private electrical and district heat networks have numerous benefits beyond their environmental impact. They provide jobs and economic opportunities in areas such as engineering, construction, and maintenance and these industries are essential in driving innovation and progress in sustainable energy technology.
Continuing innovation in renewable energy has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint significantly, lower energy costs for consumers, and create jobs and economic opportunities in sustainable energy industries. As we continue to develop these technologies and implement them on a larger scale, we can look forward to a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future.