Politicians, officials and investors met at Teesworks in Redcar this morning following the signing of a lease agreement between Net Zero Teesside and partners bp and Equinor to build NZT Power – with the aim of making the plant the world’s first gas-fired power station using carbon capture -Technology.
Once operational, it will generate 860 megawatts of low-carbon electricity, which will be enough to power up to 1.3 million homes. Two million tonnes of CO2 emissions from the site will then be captured and transported 90 miles offshore to a storage site built under the North Sea.
Read more: Six week consultation on BP proposals for H2Teesside
After six years of preparation, ground was broken for the project today on the site of the former Redcar steelworks. It is estimated that 4,000 jobs will be created, even if construction of the facility itself begins in September 2024.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen opened the event with a cinematic trailer looking back over the steelworks site, set to the tune of ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha, which described NZT Power and Teesworks as ‘a new legacy’ for Teesside were celebrated.
Mr Houchen began by speaking of the many “twists and turns” that led to the site’s groundbreaking, with BP bosses predicting 3,000 people will be working at the site by 2025.
He added: “I am very proud to stand here and say that we are delivering on what we promised to local people after the closure of the steelworks in 2015.”
“Often people think there’s a lot of political bang-up in these things, we promised a lot and that’s why it was so important to arrive today and show that it’s completely real… there’s more to come.”
Mayor Houchen was later joined by Teesworks director Matt Johnson, bp vice president of hydrogen and CCUS UK Andy Lane and chair of the Tees Valley Business Board Siobhan McArdle.
BP official Andy Lane was the first to praise the project and the milestone achieved, praising Teesside as a “world leader”.
Andy Lane: “This is a project that is really close to my heart. It makes me particularly proud to be here today at this important milestone and to see the site being prepared for construction to begin.”
“There is a great vision for the Teesworks site here in the Tees Valley. It shows the ambition and scale of what could be done here.”
“Teesside has been a world leader before and has the potential to be a world leader again.”
Following the meeting, Mayor Houchen operated an excavator to break up the soil on the site and was asked if there had been any previous concerns that the project would not go ahead.
This comes after concerns of “industrial-scale corruption” emerged from Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald in May this year, which raised questions about whether investors would withdraw from the site.
The mayor said: “There are always major obstacles in major infrastructure projects. Since we first invited NZT for an interview five years ago, we have still been in competition with other sites.”
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“It was only in the last six months that we knew this was going to happen. So when we are today, when the contracts have been signed and we have excavators on site, we know that nothing can prevent this.”
While bp is now the largest investor Teesworks has benefited from to date, Mayor Houchen has confirmed that more deals are on the way, which could be announced before 2024.
He added: “At Teesworks we are in the final stages of two more major investor deals, so I would be surprised if we didn’t make more public announcements of new deals between now and the end of the year.”