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PHOTOS: Drilling underway for 'hot rocks' power in Cornwall

PHOTOS: Drilling underway for 'hot rocks' power in Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:04am 10th November 2018. (Updated at 8:20am 10th November 2018)

Cornwall is set to become home to the UK's first deep geothermal electricity plant.

Drilling is now underway at the site near St Day, that will pump hot water from a well.

Officials say that will be turned into enough electricty to power around 3,000 homes.

"We've known for many years that the rocks underneath Cornwall are hot, hotter than anywhere else in the UK.

"There's been quite a long history of exploration for geothemal in this county, going back to the late 70s and early 80s.

"We expect the temperature at the bottom of our deepest hole to be around 190 degrees centigrade".

"It will be a good thing for Cornwall if we can prove this concept. Then there'll be other places in Cornwall that we can go and do this and hope to build up, over the next ten or twenty years, a reasonably significant geothermal industry in the county".

Project manager Peter Ledingham

geothermal drilling 2
Cornwall is set to become home to the UK's first deep geothermal electricty plant, producing enough to power 3,000 homes

How does geothermal drilling work?

Two deep geothermal wells will be drilled into the granitic rock beneath the site, the deepest of which will reach a ground-breaking 4.5 kilometres.

Water will be pumped from the deepest well at a temperature of approximately 190C, fed through a heat exchanger at the surface and then re-injected into the ground to pick up more heat from the rocks in a continuous cycle. The extracted heat will be converted into electricity and supplied to the National Grid.

The electricity and heat energy produced by this type of low carbon, renewable energy source is continuous (24/7) as geothermal energy does not suffer from the peaks and troughs that many other sustainable power sources are subject to.

It is hoped that the innovative approach applied through this initiative should be repeatable at other suitable sites in Cornwall and Devon.

The proposed plant is following on from the success of similar plants in Insheim and Landau in Germany.

"The largely untapped geothermal resources in the UK have the potential to deliver up to 20% of the UK's electricity and heat energy needs in a reliable and sustainable way.

"As coal fired power stations are switched off, the need for renewable, baseload energy can only increase.

"It is incredibly exciting to see this pioneering project getting off the ground in what we hope will be the start of many similar initiatives across the UK".

Dr Ryan Law, Managing Director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd

geothermal drilling 3
Two deep geothermal wells will be drilled into the granitic rock beneath the site at United Downs near St Day

global engineering consultancy, Arup, has signed an agreement to purchase renewable energy guarantee of origin certificates (REGOs) from GEL equating to 9000MWh/year.

The REGO scheme is a UK Government sponsored scheme which enables companies to secure green energy for their operations.

The deal will allow the firm to supply zero carbon electricity to all of its offices in the United Kingdom.

"As well as taking responsibility for reducing their carbon emissions, companies can encourage the renewable energy market by securing low carbon renewable energy supplies.

"We believe geothermal energy has huge potential to contribute to the UK's renewable energy sources and that's why we've been investing in geothermal technologies since 2013.

"This agreement contributes significantly to our efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our UK operations. We believe this project will stimulate the growth of geothermal plants in the UK".

Nigel Tonks, Arup's UKIMEA Sustainable Development Director

The project has received approximately £18 million in funding, including £10.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund, £2.4 million from Cornwall Council, £5 million from private investors through Abundance Capital.

Delivery partners for this project include GeoScience Ltd, The British Geological Survey, and the University of Plymouth Sustainable Earth Institute, all working to further the viability of geothermal energy as a renewable energy resource in Britain.

"I am delighted that the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project is now underway and bringing investment into my constituency.

"The UDDGP is the UKs first deep geothermal power project and, as such, will help trigger further development of a renewable energy source beneath our feet that is available 24/7 and offers both electricity and heat.

"Renewable heat sources will be vital for decarbonising our energy systems and I look forward to seeing many more of these types of projects in Cornwall and beyond".

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth

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