Birmingham city centre will undergo massive redevelopment over the next 15 years [i], particularly around the HS2 Curzon Street station (£900 million), Smithfield (£600 million), Snow Hill, Typhoo Wharf and Arena Central [ii]. The area also suffers serious air pollution and the City Council is developing plans for a Clean Air Zone to start by 2020. This will require the construction of a substantial clean energy transport refuelling infrastructure including hydrogen and electric vehicle charging at scale.

There is little space available for vehicle recharging in the city centre. Part of the solution may be to use the industrial land available at Tyseley Energy Park, 5km east of the city centre, to produce clean energy for the city centre and local communities, and power a new clean transport refuelling infrastructure. The Tyseley environmental enterprise district will be a clean technology hub for the city of Birmingham. With a long history of industry in this area, the remaining businesses seek new and innovative energy supplies in order to help the remaining firms stay competitive. It is against that backdrop of transforming industrial competitiveness that the vision has been conceived.

Illustration of UK Tysley Energy Innovation Zone
Tysley Energy Innovation Zone

Tyseley is already the site of the city’s energy-from-waste (EfW) plant, which burns 350,000 tonnes of waste per year to generate 25MWe. The 16 acre industrial site next door is being developed as Tyseley Energy Park by its owners, Webster and Horsfall, and partners including the University of Birmingham, the City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Tyseley Energy Park already hosts a 10MWe biomass generating plant and private wire electricity supply, and is also the depot for a growing fleet of rent-by-the-hour electric taxis – most of the city’s taxi drivers live nearby. A clean energy refueling station is being built to provide electric vehicle charging, hydrogen and CNG for the city’s bus fleet, and for the refuse vehicles that supply the EfW plant.

Future plans include recycling waste heat from the EfW plant through a heat pipe to the Birmingham District Energy Scheme in the city centre, which is owned and operated by ENGIE. This route would run through areas of dense housing including many energy poor households. There may also be synergies with new transport initiatives such as the proposed tram route to the airport, and refueling and recharging infrastructure for the city.