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How hot rocks will help power Cornish homes

How hot rocks will help power Cornish homes

Published by Emma Carton at 7:18am 23rd May 2018. (Updated at 9:53am 23rd May 2018)

Almost one and a half million pounds is being pumped into a so-called 'hot rocks' project for Cornwall.

The Eden Project could use them to generate geothermal energy.

It is believed that will produce enough power for 4,000 homes.

The move is being described as a significant moment for Cornwall’s ambition to become a world leader in renewable energy.

It will secure Cornwall’s energy supply, potentially reduce energy bills for residents in the future and create more high quality jobs in engineering, research and technology for the next generation of school leavers.

What do we know about the project?

Proposed by EGS Energy in partnership with Eden in Bodelva near St Austell, it involves drilling a well to gain access to the hot rocks below, creating enough heat and electricity to potentially power the Eden Project and surrounding homes.  

Cornwall Council has agreed to provide the £1.4m grant as match funding, subject to the Eden Project achieving funding from other sources.

The project is the second deep geothermal exploration project to receive match funding from the Council since 2016. 

What happens next?

Eden-EGS Energy will join Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL), which secured funding of £10.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund in 2017 to drill two deep geothermal wells from its site within the United Downs Industrial Estate and build a 1MW pilot power plant to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of supplying electricity initially and potentially heat. Drilling at United Downs will begin later this year.

The project at United Downs was made possible after a grant of £2.4m by Cornwall Council unlocked a further £5m from private investors to match the European funding. 

How will it benefit Cornwall?

Council Leader Adam Paynter said: "Cornwall is the first in the UK to explore the potential to power our economy from deep geothermal energy, the hot rocks and springs lying deep under Cornwall.

"This Council has secured money from national Government which we are using to lever in a total of £35 million funding from private businesses, Europe and research institutions for deep geothermal power.

"As a result companies in Cornwall are beginning drilling at United Downs and today [Cornwall Council] took a decision which will unlock a second site located within Eden.

"This has huge potential not just for Cornwall but for the national economy. Unlike other renewable sources where energy is dependent on the wind or the sun, deep geothermal offers a stable consistent and secure source of energy.

"All of this was made possible through our first devolution deal with Government. We want to build on this through our latest proposal, New Frontiers.

"We are seeking co-investment from Government in our deep geothermal projects in order to assess the potential to extract valuable minerals such as lithium that will be in high demand across the globe to power the electric vehicles of the future".

Cabinet portfolio holder for planning and economy, Bob Egerton said: “We know that granite in some areas of Cornwall has the highest heat flow in the UK – and the natural geothermal springs are rich in Lithium deposits.

"If we can find a way to exploit geothermal power successfully, these hot rocks have the potential to provide Cornwall with a rich source of strategic minerals and renewable energy, as well as significant benefits to the local economy from jobs, research and investment.

"By supporting one-off exploration projects like Eden and United Downs, this exploration for geothermal power at the Eden Project is a first step towards testing the technology we need to help us to exploit geothermal power more widely across Cornwall".

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