UK MPs launch inquiry into geothermal technologies

UK MPs launch inquiry into geothermal technologies UK Parliament (source: Michael D Beckwith / flick, Creative Commons)
Carlo Cariaga 23 Jun 2022

Members of the UK Parliament have launched an inquiry into geothermal technologies and how they could contribute towards UK's net zero goals.

Members of the UK Parliament in the Environmental Audit Committee have launched an inquiry into the role that geothermal technologies can play in the UK’ s journey to net zero. With this, the Committee is inviting written submissions on any or all of the issues raised in the terms of reference by 21 July, 2022, 5:00 PM.

In the call for evidence document, three geothermal technologies were cited as potentially beneficial to the UK.

  • Ground source heat pumps, which extract heat from a few meters below the surface to provide heat on a small scale
  • Mine energy systems that utilize the heat in the water of disused mines to provide heat on a large scale, and
  • Enhanced geothermal systems, which exploit the heat formed through radioactive decays in granite deposits deep underground to provide energy for power generation.

During an earlier inquiry done on the role of ground source heat pumps, it was estimated that there were only 44,00 ground source heat pumps in operation in the UK. There are currently no operational mine water heating systems, nor are there any enhanced geothermal systems that are operations. However, some EGS projects are in development such as the Eden Geothermal project and the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project.

The UK Government has currently not come up with a bespoke support scheme for geothermal technology projects, though there are funding options to support technological development and deployment. Larger-scale projects can be supported through mechanisms such as Power Purchase Agreements.

Those who would like to invite submissions of written evidence are encouraged to answer one or more of the following questions:

  • What role can geothermal technologies take in the transition to net zero in the UK?
  • What barriers (technological, regulatory, or otherwise) are there to deploying operational geothermal technologies in the UK?
  • What is the scale of the potential market for geothermal energy sources and which geographic or other geological types are most suitable for exploitation of this natural resource?
  • Are current government support schemes sufficient to grow geothermal energy deployment in the U.K.?
  • What environmental concerns are associated with geothermal technologies, and are they appropriately accounted for in regulations?
  • What risks are there to investors, operators, and consumers of geothermal energy? How can these be mitigated?
  • How does the density of mine water systems affect their efficiency? Could widespread uptake of geothermal systems in dense population centres lead to a reduction in their ability to provide heat?
  • What economic impact could the deployment of mine water geothermal systems have on the areas in which they are deployed?

The Committee is also encouraging submissions from members of under-represented groups, as it aims to have a diverse panel of witnesses and representatives. Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal.

Source: UK Parliament