UK: Cornwall grants planning permission for EGS project

Twilight Castle, Redruth/ Cornwall, UK (source: flickr/ The Hidaway (Simon), creative commons)
Alexander Richter 16 Aug 2010

Cornwall council grants planning permission for UK's first commercia-scale deep geothermal power plant by London-based Geothermal Engineering.

Reported from the UK, “Cornwall council has granted planning permission for the country’s first commercial-scale deep geothermal power plant at a site near Redruth.

The plant is being developed by London-based Geothermal Engineering and is intended to generate 55MW of renewable heat energy and 10MW of electricity when it becomes fully operational in 2013.

Approval of the planning application last week (August 13) means the company can drill three wells 4.5km in depth at the United Downs industrial estate, which is an existing brown field site. Work is set to start in early 2011.

The company said that this would be the deepest onshore well in the UK and hailed the approved application as a “major milestone” in the development of geothermal renewable energy sources in the UK.

Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering and chair of the Renewable Energy Association’s Deep Geothermal Group, said: “With the development of our plant we want to make deep geothermal energy a significant contributor to the UK’s energy portfolio.

“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 one and five GW of baseload, renewable electricity by 2030.”

The company is currently seeking funding for the facility from business partners and the European Regional Development Fund. It was awarded £1.475 million by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in December 2009 (see this story).

Geothermal Engineering chose Cornwall to develop the plant as previous research showed that Cornwall had a suitable heat resource which is trapped in granite underground.

This approval marks the first major proposal for geothermal energy development in the UK on a commercial scale, and, in October, it was forecasted that the sector could account for 4,000MW of renewable energy across Europe by 2016.

Approval for the project was welcomed by Professor Frances Wall, head of the Camborne School of Mines, which is a department of the University of Exeter specialising in engineering, mathematics and physical sciences.

Professor Wall said: “The Camborne School of Mines has been involved in deep geothermal research for decades so to see a commercial project coming to fruition is immensely satisfying. Geothermal has significant potential in the UK and the region stands to benefit significantly from this development in terms of being at the forefront of geothermal exploration.”

Source: New Energy Focus