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SKM report highlights geothermal potential for HSA and EGS in the UK

Snapshot of the SKM report cover
Alexander Richter 6 Jun 2012

While a recent report on the geothermal potential for the UK highlights a possibility of up to 9,500 MW electric, only direct heat applications are economically attractive in the UK.

Engineering group Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) has conducted and published an independent study to assess the geothermal energy potential in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The report – so the summary provided – “reviews the available geothermal resources, evaluates the stored heat in the most promising resources, examines the financial viability of potential geothermal plant scenarios and proposes support mechanisms to stimulate and promote the growth of the geothermal industry” in the UK.

Looking at resources, the report focuses on deep geothermal resources up to 5,000 meters below ground level “where there is a. sufficient heat available and b. drilling costs have been found to be economically viable”. SKM further looks at hot sedimentary aquifer systems (HSA) and EGS systems.

The report uses the Australian Geothermal Reporting Code as the underlying standard for referencing resource data.

SKM further looked at 8 main regions for both HSA and EGS applications for direct heat, heat pump technology, but also for power generation.

The report suggests a total installed generation potential of 9,500 MW (electric) and a heat potential of 100,000 MW (thermal) for 25 years. The power generation potential is solely to be derived from EGS.

The report also looks at the necessary incentives needed to kick start development and support the UK based industry.

There currently are two geothermal power projects both in Cornwall, England. One project is the Eden project by EGS Energy with a planned capacity of 4 MW gross, 2 planned wells and a depth of 4km. The project has no set drilling date yet.

The other project is the United Downs project by Geothermal Engineering with a planned capacity of 10 MW gross, 3 planned wells and a depth of 4.5  km.

The report concludes that current support for the industry only makes direct heat applications economically attractive, but also points out that with higher levels of support, HSA and EGS electricity generation projects could become attractive for the UK.

Source: SKM, “Geothermal Energy Potential – Great Britain and Northern Ireland”