Cornwall to house UK’s first deep geothermal plant

The UK’s first commercial deep geothermal power plant will be built in Cornwall following approval by the county council.

British firm Geothermal Engineering expects the plant near Redruth to be fully operational by 2013, providing renewable heat for the local area and renewable electricity for the National Grid.

The plant will have the deepest on-shore well in the UK, reaching 4.5km below ground level to access rocks at temperatures of around 200°C.

This will provide up to 55MW of renewable heat energy and 10MW of electricity − enough to heat 20 schools for a year and produce power for 20,000 homes.

Work will begin in early 2011 to build the plant on a brownfield site within an existing industrial estate.

Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal and chair of the Renewable Energy Association’s Deep Geothermal Group, said: ‘Not only can we contribute renewable, continuous power to the grid, we also want to change the way the UK meets its heat demands by offering energy-efficient, decentralised heat.

‘The Department of Energy and Climate Change has already estimated that deep geothermal technology could supply between 1 and 5GW of baseload renewable electricity by 2030.’

Noting the broader benefits of the plant, he added: ’Supporting the development of geothermal energy can aid local regeneration by attracting businesses and companies that are able to use the renewable heat.

‘In addition, it will help to develop the UK’s geothermal expertise and skills that will allow us to compete internationally as the geothermal industry grows across the world.

‘Nonetheless, it is only through commitment and support from government that the further private investment, which is needed to fully exploit the UK’s geothermal potential, will be raised.’

Geothermal Engineering is currently pursuing additional funding options with industry partners and the European Regional Development Fund. The company was awarded £1.5m in funding by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in December 2009.