The UK’s first new deep geothermal heating plant since 1987 opened today at the Eden Project in Cornwall, and its developers hope the scheme will help inspire a new wave of geothermal power projects across the country.
Geothermal energy, which involves extracting heat from deep underground and using it to heat and generate electricity, currently provides less than 0.3 per cent of the UK’s annual heat demand.
The new Eden geothermal well, which extends nearly 5 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, now pumps heat to the tourist site’s famous geodesic “biomes” and a new greenhouse, the developers said June 19.
The project has taken over a decade to deliver, with Brexit, covid-19 and supply chain issues causing delays. A series of seismic tremors also halted testing on the new well in March 2022.
Gus Grand, the CEO of Eden Geothermal, the company behind the project, says it is “fantastic” to have completed it.
The well is expected to reduce the Eden Project’s heating bills, which amount to over £1m a year, by 40 per cent and enable the site to offer a menu stocked with site-grown food throughout the year. anus.
Eden Geothermal hopes its new well will inspire large institutional or industrial sites, such as hospitals and factories, to go geothermal. Gran says that she is it is already receiving calls from large food producers interested in visiting the pit for more information.
She believes the UK is well-prepared for geothermal energy, partly because its resources are already well mapped. “We have very, very good exploration data in the sedimentary aquifers because of oil and gas exploration,” says Grand. But the UK lags far behind its European neighbors when it comes to installation rates.
Studies have suggested that geothermal power could meet the UK’s annual heating demand for at least a century, prompting MPs last year to call on the government to do more to carry out new projects.
A government white paper on the potential of geothermal energy is expected in the coming weeks. Grand hopes this will address some of the main political barriers to its development, such as the lack of protected subsidies.
Delays in connecting new renewable energy projects to the electricity grid are another major problem. Adding these new connection points requires improvements to the grid and local electrical substations. These upgrades have not kept pace with the renewable energy boom over the past decade, particularly in the Southwest, leaving the system at a standstill.
The Eden Project could house an additional well, allowing clean electricity generation along with heat. But the first grid connection the company was offered for the project is in December 2036. “It’s very, very difficult for me to build a business case” based on that far back in date, says Grand.