Council has Designs on Flagship Renewable Energy Centre
Work is underway to design a landmark net zero building in South Tyneside to showcase expertise in low carbon energy.
The £2.8million Northern Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence (NRECE) would be a flagship venue highlighting the region's skills and knowledge on a national stage.
South Tyneside Council successfully bid for funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership's Project Development Accelerator Fund, and is now developing designs and a business case, as well as carrying out site investigation works.
The project would be part of the Holborn Renewable Energy Network in South Shields, and would feature a 7km-long green eco-walk linking it to the Borough's two other groundbreaking district heating schemes at Hebburn and Jarrow.
The 220-sqm glass-walled building would provide a venue for educational visits, skills training and research, and become a major tourism attraction.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "South Tyneside is ideally placed to develop this incredibly exciting project.
"We have three highly-innovative renewable energy schemes underway in the Borough, one of which is the first of its kind in the country.
"This centre would reinforce the region's position at the forefront of pioneering minewater and river source technologies.
"It would be a key venue for skills development, particularly STEM skills, right from primary through to higher education, allowing students to see the energy network in practice and inspiring them about careers in the green economy.
"It would also be an iconic visitor attraction at the heart of our move towards carbon neutrality."
The project, which would deliver on the council's key priority of investing in the natural environment, is being developed in collaboration with South Tyneside College, Durham and Northumbria Universities and the UK Coal Authority.
It would allow residents to access training and skills provision around designing, implementing and operating energy networks and, and in particular, help older workers to reskill into green industries.
It is envisaged that the Centre would create 47 temporary construction and design roles, in addition to more than 40 permanent jobs, including academics, operation and maintenance technicians and front of house staff.
The Holborn Renewable Energy Network will use a combination of technologies, harnessing heat from abandoned flooded mines, as well as from the River Tyne and is expected to save 2,436 tonnes of carbon a year.
Helen Golightly, Chief Executive at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Our region is leading some of the most innovative and pioneering projects to advance new low and no carbon energy solutions.
"South Tyneside is already at the forefront of the green industrial revolution in the UK, and the creation of the Northern Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence in the borough would highlight the skills, expertise and talent available here in the North East.
"The Project Development Accelerator Fund is helping create the business case for innovative projects and initiatives across the LEP region that will help the North East achieve its net zero ambitions."