A large-scale renewable energy park backed by hundreds of millions of pounds from China could create as many as 250 jobs in the long-term, the developer behind the plans has said.
The 40-hectare site near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire has the potential to be “carbon negative” – removing carbon from the environment by repurposing oil sludge which currently goes unused.
Edinburgh-based Holistic Energy hopes to start construction of an energy village in the area in 2023 and commence operation in 2026.
North China Power Engineering (NCPE) has pledged up to £800m for the site and two others in the UK, with around £500m expected to go to the Peterhead plant.
The energy park, if approved, will include several different types of energy production such as a biomass plant and aerobic digestion, operating as a single ecosystem to produce electricity that could power around 90,000 houses and hydrogen for new fleets of local authority vehicles.
Dr Gen Cannibal, director of Holistic Energy, said the plant could provide a green alternative to jobs being lost in the North Sea oil and gas sector.
The site will be used to develop technologies for dealing with plastics and oil sludge, a by-product of the oil and gas industry, he said.
Dr Cannibal explained: “We’re looking into becoming carbon negative – taking more carbon out of the environment than we’re putting in.
“In the UK, [oil sludge] goes into special waste facilities. In other countries, such as in the Middle East, it’s a huge problem.
“It’s just sitting in huge lakes, emitting carbon dioxide.”
He added: “The facility will have three primary purposes – to produce a local renewable power station in Peterhead, which can approach the most commonly identified barriers to renewable uptake, to form a major R&D (research and development) facility for new technologies that have reached the marketable stage but have not, as of yet, attained large-scale market application in the UK, and thirdly, to provide a significant replacement to gas-powered plants in satisfying Scottish electricity demands and, hence, decarbonising the Scottish economy.
“The ambitions for the development of the renewable energy village are to showcase Scotland and the UK as a world leader in energy transition projects and enhance our delivery timeline to low or zero-carbon energy sources.”
The plans will be considered by the Scottish Government under their powers from the Electricity Act and will go into consultation with Aberdeenshire Council.