A plan to install a plant near Shap which would use natural gas to generate electricity for the local and national grid in times of demand is causing concern among village residents.
Fell Energy Generation Ltd want to build a gas plant, and associated infrastructure, on land to the east of the A6, near Shap, and a planning application, prepared by Adaptive Energy Solutions Limited, has been submitted to Eden District Council.
The proposed development would act as a “peaking plant” which would not operate full-time, but intermittently, as demand requires.
It is anticipated the engines would generate electricity for approximately 4,000 hours per year, providing energy security to 25,000 homes across the local network, when called upon to do so.
“Flexible gas peaking plants, such as these, are seen as ‘renewable-associated’ developments and so are particularly important if there is to be support for greater increase in the amount of renewable technologies coming online.
“Adding flexibility, such as gas peaking plants, to local networks such as Electricity North West’s, supports the intermittent nature of energy produced by renewable technologies and energy draw from electric vehicles and electrified heating thus balancing the grid.
“This allows greater promotion of renewable technologies, electric vehicles and supports the changes in building regulations in electrify heat through air source heat pumps in a local way — in turn contributing to national targets for renewable energy and carbon emission reduction,” a statement accompanying the application says.
However, Shap Parish Council has lodged an objection to the application, citing concerns over the safety of the plant.
“Can we be assured that measures taken to avoid any industrial accident are implement to the highest level,” asks a parish council spokeswoman in its response to Eden Council.
Concerned residents have raised objections with Eden Council over the application and are claiming that the proposed development appears to “directly contradictory to the government agenda”, particularly the commitment to spend £1 billion reducing reliance on overseas supplies of gas by investing in projects to reduce electricity demand.
Green Party member Peter Dicken said: “We have been given no figures to support the need for such generation, nor has there been any evidence of consideration of alternative, more environmentally-friendly ways of providing this power.
“Has consideration been given to pumped hydro storage and generation, given the presence of a large dam close to Shap?”
Another Shap resident, George Payne, said: “Grid-scale battery storage for balancing supply and demand is a proven technology which has been implemented successfully in several places – £136m was paid to wind turbine operators in 2019 to turn off their generating facilities – surely we would do better by being able to store this for use in times of peak demand.
“Also, a report by Imperial College to the committee on climate change predicts that 20 per cent of electricity demand will be met by so-called ‘flexibility resources’ by 2030 – for example, electricity company OVO is currently piloting a scheme to use the electricity stored in customers’ electric vehicles as a source of supply.”
Mr Payne added: “Short cycle gas plants are inherently inefficient.
“The 45 MWH power generation facility is scheduled to run for up to 4,000 hours per year, emitting 90 million kilograms of CO2 in the process.
“In the light of current trends towards a low carbon economy, I am mystified as to why we are building new fossil fuel power generation facilities.”
Residents have observed that the plant will be largely automated, requiring a staff complement of three, and will therefore not create a significant number of jobs, nor will it contribute to the local economy, they say.
A date for consideration of the plans by Eden District Council’s planning committee has not yet been confirmed.