The support will underpin a £7m investment in the development of a steam raising plant that will significantly reduce the manufacturer's energy costs, CO2emissions, and rising environmental taxes. The plant will consume a mixture of solid recovered fuel (SRF) produced by Shanks from Cumbrian municipal waste, and the company's own paper-making effluent residues. SRF, which is approximately 50% biomass in content, is currently significantly underutilised owing to lack of appropriate proven technology - a gap which the project intends to fill. This could have wide ranging benefits for other energy intensive industries seeking to transition away from fossil fuels but with precious few lower carbon alternatives available.
"We have been trying to get this project off the ground since 2005," commented Chairman Mark Cropper, sixth generation chairman of the group, which was founded in 1845. "But despite receiving planning permission in 2009, our efforts have been thwarted by high costs and lack of suitable technology and suppliers."
"In the meantime, the need for the plant - which will supplement our gas fired CHP plant, itself a pioneering investment in the 1980s - has only grown more pressing. Energy costs are rising and the global competitiveness of our business and other British energy intensive manufacturers is being further impaired by new UK carbon taxation policies. Delay and relief of such tax policies are vital to maintain competitive costs, however the transition to new forms of energy is more critical than ever, so the RGF support could not be more welcome."