Advertiser: Honda seeks to build energy plant at Swindon site

Swindon Advertiser today ran the following article:

HONDA is looking to build a state-of-the-art energy centre at its factory in South Marston. An application has been submitted to the council that would see the plant provide a portion of the site’s power in renewable form. If successful, the new centre will replace former plans to build three wind turbines, which had been rejected.

Although the centre will take the form of a biomass plant, Honda is keen to stress it is very different from other proposals in Swindon. The company will bring in recycled wood chip which will then be converted into gas. The heating of this gas then provides the energy.

Julian Bliss, a senior staff engineer at Honda, said the new centre would give the company far more energy security in the long term without affecting residents nearby. He said: “The important factor with the system we are using is that there will be no actual burning of wood in the process. This is a gasification process as opposed to combustion. We heat the wood up to incredibly high temperatures without oxygen, which in turn make it a gas. It is this gas which is then effectively boiled which creates heat to turn the turbine. The emissions which are generated are minimal and you will not see fumes pouring out of chimneys.”

When in operation the energy centre will generate about 3.8 megawatts of power at all times of the day. This is the base level of power the plant needs at all times, even when it is not operational. The vast majority of energy it generates will be used to power the factory, although if there is a surplus this will be put into the national grid.

“This will give us much more security with our power as we will not be susceptible to power outages,” said Julian. “It is an efficient energy source and will also mean we are taking less electricity out of the grid.”

If it gets the go-ahead the energy centre will be located on the north section of the plant, with a single stack not jutting above neighbouring buildings and affecting the skyline. An estimated extra 12 jobs will be created as a result of the centre. It will involve an extra 10 lorries entering the site a day on average, but with the current average 591 a day, the company believes the impact on nearby residents will be small.

Honda has met several South Marston parish councillors and given them the outline of what it is they plan to do. Barry Thunder, of South Marston Parish Council, said: “From what we have seen so far, it appears there will be very little actual impact on the village. Although I have not seen the formal plans, what we were shown looked very good. It will not stick out over the skyline and the emissions look as though they will kept low. We will have to wait until the full plans go before the parish council planning committee but at this stage I cannot see there being a problem.”

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