Balfour Beatty's GBP52m energy from waste plant gets green light
Balfour Beatty Investments has reached financial close on a £52 million waste wood power station located in Northamptonshire, UK.
The construction giant will invest £17.2m, as will each of its two consortium investment partners, Noy Infrastructure & Energy Investment Fund and Equitix.
Contractor MWH Treatment will start the 26-month construction programme this month, which is expected to create 100 jobs during construction.
Once complete, the project will convert 60,000 tonnes of dry waste wood feedstock into 9MW of electricity using Nexterra Systems Corp gasification technology.
The clean electricity generated will be exported to the national grid and will be enough to power more than 17,000 UK households a year and, result in an annual saving of 28,809 tonnes of CO2 against a baseline assumption that the waste wood would otherwise be exported for energy recovery in Northern Europe.
Welland is Balfour Beatty’s and MWH’s second project in the waste wood to energy market after the Birmingham Bio Power, which is currently in construction at Tyseley.
Both Birmingham Bio Power and Welland have been jointly developed with the renewables developer Cogen.
Stewart Orrell, Managing Director of Economic Infrastructure for Balfour Beatty Investments, said: “This innovative biomass project is our second investment into the renewable energy sector and is one of a pipeline of similar opportunities that we are exploring together with Nexterra.”
Apprenticeships can bridge skills gap says Autodesk director
The UK construction industry needs 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet rising demand, according to the Construction Skills Network published by CITB.
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated it needs to attract 400,000 new recruits each year to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs.
But given one in three current construction employees are over 50 there is predicted to be a 20-25% decline in the available workforce over the next decade. And with end of the free movement of people from the EU, it has further limited access to skilled talent.
Mike Pettinella, Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions EMEA, believes the solution may be one that is hardly new, but might have taken a back seat during the pandemic.
"Apprenticeships could help us bridge the construction skills gap and meet this rapidly rising demand, and attract a new crop of younger talent to the industry," he said.
"Apprenticeships benefit everyone. For candidates, it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills without incurring thousands of pounds of student debts. For employers, it’s a chance to train up employees in the competencies that are really needed – combining technical knowledge with collaboration and team work, which are equally important as you enter a new industry. And if you’re a larger company and already required to pay the apprenticeship levy, it makes sense to ensure you’re benefitting from the scheme too."
Marshall Construction recently took on nine new apprenticeships covering various roles. "Some of our previous apprentices have left and started their own businesses, which sets them up for life," said Chairman Robert Marshall. "Most of our current managers came from organic growth within the business whom we have trained to our own standards." Firms such as Barnwood Construction and Keepmoat Homes are also advertising and supporting apprenticeships.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the future shape of work will be profound. Modelling by the McKinsey Global Institute on the effects of technology adoption on the UK workforce shows that up to 10 million people, or around 30 percent of all UK workers, may need to transition between occupations or skill levels by 2030.