UK’s First Geothermal Power Plant Given Go-ahead

Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for the development of the UK’s first commercial deep geothermal power plant, near Redruth in Cornwall. Developed by British company Geothermal Engineering, the plant will provide both renewable heat for the local area, and renewable electricity, which will be fed into the National Grid. The plant is expected to be fully operational in 2013. The project marks a major milestone in the development of geothermal energy in the UK.

The plant is to be built on a brownfield site within an existing industrial estate. Work will begin in early 2011 to drill 4.5 kilometres into the ground to access rocks at temperatures of approximately 200 degrees Celsius. This will be the deepest on-shore well in the UK.

The plant will provide up to 55 MW of renewable heat energy for the local community, and 10 MW of electricity. 55 MW of heat is the equivalent of heating 20 schools for a year, while 10 MW of electricity is enough power for 20,000 homes.

“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,” says Ryan Law (pictured), managing director of Geothermal Engineering and chair of the Renewable Energy Association’s Deep Geothermal Group.

He adds: “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.”

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