Sugar factory could be a sweet solution for heating new homes

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NEW homes and businesses in Bury St Edmunds could be heated or powered using steam generated from sugar production in the town.

Talks have taken place between officers at St Edmundsbury Borough Council and representatives of British Sugar about the possibility of using steam, generated at the company’s Bury factory, to provide heat or electricity to new businesses and 6,300 new homes that will be built over the next 20 years as part of the council’s development blueprint.

Steam produced at British Sugar sites is used to drive turbo-alternators which generates electricity to power its factories.

Its Bury plant generates more electricity than the factory requires and the excess is sold to electricity supply companies.

A high performance gas turbine installed at the site generates 50MW of electricity for sale.

Over the next few months, officers at the council will be looking into the feasibility of plans proposed by British Sugar. They will also be taking part in discussions with other organisations and businesses that may be able to offer locally sourced and, therefore, cost-effective ways of providing energy with reduced emissions.

At the moment, the initial discussions between the council and British Sugar are not part of any formal planning process.

Peter Gudde, the council’s environmental management officer, said: “British Sugar has spare capacity to generate electricity on site and there’s the opportunity for us as a community to look to use that energy for new developments in the town.”

He added: “From an environmental viewpoint I am excited. The opportunity to utilise this spare capacity to heat homes and heat buildings is going to be new for Bury and if it goes forward it will be innovative.

“I’m equally excited about finding out what other opportunities exist for local energy generation and low-carbon generation.

“We’re keen to talk to other organisations, both in the business sector and the development sector, about how they can harness their energy and how we as a council can facilitate that.”

To help businesses in Bury improve the energy efficiency of their buildings St Edmundsbury Borough Council has secured a package of thermal imaging building surveys at discounted rates.

For more information contact Mr Gudde on 01284 757042.