British Geological Survey releases policy position on ownership of geothermal heat

Paper screenshot
Alexander Richter 6 Dec 2018

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has released a scientific position paper looking at who owns geothermal heat in the context of the UK. The paper urges revision of geothermal regulations in the UK to encourage exploitation of this resource.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has corporate policy positions on a range of geoscience topics. The science briefing papers allow BGS scientists to reflect and communicate their science in a succinct way to other experts, policymakers and the public.

It now refreshed policy position papers starting last month with geothermal heat. The briefing paper looks into “Who owns geothermal heat?”

  • ‘Geothermal heat has the potential to make a significant contribution to… the UK Climate Change Act.’
  • ‘Heat, although not a “substance” in the physical sense, behaves in many ways analogous to water.’

Heat from the earth, or geothermal heat, arises from the heat dissipated from the centre of the earth and, at shallow depth, from heating by the sun. High-enthalpy (deep) geothermal heat is found within some granitic rocks due to slightly raised levels of the radiogenic isotopes of potassium, uranium and thorium.

The paper sees an urgent need for revision of geothermal regulations in the UK to encourage exploitation of this resource as an alternative to currently-used, carbonintensive energy sources like coal and gas.

This requires that technology users, companies and financiers have some safeguards for their financial commitment and that an authority is available that can issue exploration and development licenses for geothermal heat that will, in law, guarantee and protect the licensee’s exclusive right to develop, exploit and profit from a geothermal resource, for a specified period, i.e.,

  1. Protection and management of the geothermal resource and its long-term sustainability
  2. Protection of the geothermal user/licensee from other external parties depleting or damaging the geothermal resource available within their property/ licence area.

For more see the paper via the download link above.

Source: BGS