Business • Cheshire West and Chester

Clustering together innovative technologies in energy generation and resource management, Protos has developed a sustainability blueprint for the rest of the UK.

  • Protos: The destination for energy
  • innovation and industry.
  • The biomass plant at Protos.

Protos' story

Protos sits at the heart of the North West's industrial cluster. This is home to a concentration of energy intensive industries which use around 5% of the UK's energy, with Cheshire West & Chester the fourth largest emitter of carbon in the UK. We face a significant challenge: how to reduce carbon emissions without losing the vital industries that make our economy thrive. Protos is at the heart of the solution. The vision was to create a strategic energy and resource hub which could provide low-carbon energy to industry, helping them to decarbonise and keep high-value manufacturing jobs in the UK. We are currently home to a 50MW wind farm and a 26MW biomass plant, with a 49MW energy from waste plant under construction.

Hydrogen has been identified as critical to meeting the UK's net zero targets. At Peel NRE we've been championing hydrogen for a number of years, including being one of the founding members of the North West Hydrogen Alliance and working closely with the UK's leading hydrogen and carbon capture project HyNet North West. At Protos we're building the UK's first plastic-to-hydrogen facility using Powerhouse Energy's pioneering technology developed at Thornton Science Park next door. This will take non-recyclable waste and use it to create a local source of hydrogen which can be used as a clean fuel for HGV's, buses and cars, helping to improve local air quality. We're also planning a hydrogen refuelling station which will help to kick start the infrastructure needed to support the rollout of hydrogen vehicles.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage is also going to be an essential technology to help the UK in its fight against climate change. The Climate Change Committee has called it a necessity not an option"if we are to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We're increasingly seeing occupiers asking about carbon capture, so we're proactively making Protos carbon capture ready. We've also received government funding to develop a carbon capture demonstration facility, InBECCS, at Ince Bio Power, in conjunction with Bioenergy Infrastructure Group.

We're also looking to develop a circular economy at Protos with our innovative plans for the UK's first Plastic Park. Designed to help tackle some of the 4.9 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in the UK every year it will cluster together processing and treatment technologies to get the most value from plastic waste.

Innovation is a key driver at Protos. We're clustering together innovative technologies which are leading the way on solutions to climate change. Through collaboration with neighbouring Thornton Science Park, Protos provides a supportive environment where ideas can come to life.

As part of our wider commitment to increase natural capital, over 50 hectares of land is being dedicated to nature at Protos where over 2,600 trees have already been planted. We've been working with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust who help us manage the nature areas.

Useful learnings from Protos

We always had a clear vision for what we wanted Protos to be: a strategic hub for resource management. Whether that's energy, waste, hydrogen or CO2, Protos is about getting the most value from our planet's resources and using them in the most sustainable way. This philosophy has been the driving force behind the project from day one and while it has evolved to adapt to local, regional, national and global drivers the fundamental ethos remains the same. This overarching vision has determined the type of operators we've brought to Protos. We could have filled the development ten times over but we waited for the right occupiers that fit the Protos ethos and this has proven to be the right decision.

At Peel NRE we're technology agnostic and have the flexibility to work with new, innovative companies that might not have a 25 year track record but that have cutting edge technologies. We also bring people together, looking for strategic fits between companies. For example, after receiving enquiries from a number of potential occupiers, we're creating the UK's first Plastic Park which will cluster together recycling and treatment technologies, providing a one stop shop for plastic waste. We now have a regionally, if not nationally, significant energy and resource hub that is setting a blueprint for the rest of the UK.

It was important for us to communicate this vision to stakeholders and the local community. We've always been committed to engaging early and continually. We set up the Protos Community Forum which continues to meet on a regular basis and is a vital conduit between us and the local community. We also have a project website, a quarterly community newsletter and twitter account that we use to share news with our neighbours and other interested parties. Whenever various plots come forward at the site we work with the occupier to consult on any planning applications to ensure local people can have their say. Securing planning permission can always bring challenges and often takes more time and resource than anticipated, so establishing and maintaining these relationships early on has been vitally important.

Protos' metrics

Amount of carbon saved.
Amount of waste diverted from landfill.
Amount of waste recycled.
kWh of low carbon and renewable energy produced.
Amount of hydrogen produced as a clean fuel for transport.
Number of species counted in Protos nature areas.
Amount of money spent on local community projects.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Positive Impacts

Less Waste

Response to climate crisis

Mitigation & Adaptation




Business, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

North West Net Zero Hub

Updated Feb, 2024

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