An unusual real estate company in England is seeking ‘bold’ partners to develop a technology park microgrid in West Cumbria.
Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) plans to install the microgrid at Westlake’s Science & Technology Park in a bid for energy independence and environmental stewardship.
The microgrid will serve the park’s 14 buildings, situated on two square miles, where about 2,000 people work. BEC, which owns and operates the park, wants the microgrid to also provide energy for neighbors, including a hospital.
BEC describes itself as a ‘profit-for-purpose’ development company. Its profits go to improve the economies of two regions in Britain: Allerdale and Copeland (West Cumbria). The company’s owners are the Copeland Borough Council, Allerdale Borough Council and Cumbria County Council, along with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
“We use our profits for two aims – to allow us to develop further commercial property opportunities and to benefit the communities that we serve in West Cumbria from a social and economic perspective. And we are low carbon at the core,” the company says in its recently issued solicitation.
The company wants to see the Westlakes “become a flagship of energy independence, with its own generation capabilities and renewables portfolio.”
Near Whitehaven, Cumbria, the site already has some small-scale renewable generation. BEC wants to add a mix of generation, district energy and energy storage to serve the technology park and offer export capacity.
Technology park microgrid would generate income for tenants
BEC says an important part of plan is to create income from the sale of power and heat to existing and future tenants and neighbors.
“Bringing this type of distributed generation to the fore also has the capability to provided added benefits to the commercial residents of our site and the communities we serve in Allerdale and Copeland. We are seeking a dynamic and technically brilliant partner to help us develop our plans that bring about a step change in the way energy is sourced at Westlakes,” said BEC CEO Michael Pemberton.
BEC also wants the partner to access the park’s capital equipment, which is aging and needs to be replaced, within the context of installing the technology park microgrid. In addition, the company needs help with energy efficiency and energy asset management
Think really big and really boldly
The company says it wants to share risk and reward and seeks a knowledgeable partner that will help it not only with the science park, but also in its goal to become the leading low carbon property development company in the UK.
The solicitation asks bidders to think boldly about what they can do with BEC from an energy perspective.
“If we think really big and really boldly, what can we achieve that goes beyond, way beyond, the opportunities afforded BEC by developing opportunities on our own assets? From a property perspective, we are looking at the potential of forward funding to develop our portfolio and create real commercial gain,” BEC says in the solicitation. “How would this approach work from a renewable energy perspective? What opportunities would it open up for us — real opportunities providing a real return? Would this approach work for a smart grid on the Park? Or do we have to think much bigger?”
“Given the commitment from the leadership team at Britain’s Energy Coast, Westlakes Science & Technology Park has the potential to become a beacon to science parks and estates across Europe,” said Joe Martin, head of funding & energy at BEC. “This is a unique opportunity for a talented organization to partner with BEC to bring our low carbon plans to fruition.”
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