Renewable energy investment company, Thrive Renewables, has announced plans to invest up to £6.5m in the UK’s first geothermal power plant being developed by Geothermal Engineering Ltd.
The plant, which is on the United Downs Industrial Estate in Cornwall, aims to supply circa 3MWe (Mega Watt electrical) of baseload electricity to National Grid and up to 12MW of renewable heat for local use.
So far, two wells have been successfully drilled, one of which is the deepest onshore well in the UK at 5.1km vertical depth, almost four times the height of Ben Nevis. The wells are also the hottest in the UK with an expected temperature of over 190°C. Initial flow tests show that the project will be capable of producing the UK’s first geothermal electricity. The project is now in its final testing phase.
Thrive Renewables is investing funds to complete the final rounds of testing and to build the geothermal power plant. Radial turbines, powered by the energy from water heated deep in the earth, will generate enough renewable electricity to power approximately 6,500 UK homes and will be available 24 hours a day. There are also early stage plans to use the residual heat energy from the project to provide renewable heat locally.
Matthew Clayton, managing director at Thrive Renewables said: “We are thrilled to provide the finance needed for the UK’s first geothermal electric power plant to become a commercial reality. This is a truly ground-breaking project. It’s the first time that we have been able to generate renewable electricity using natural heat from the earth in the UK. This pioneering project taps a constant natural resource, providing baseload renewable electricity, a crucial component of the UK’s clean energy generation mix. The project’s potential to generate and distribute heat will also contribute to the enormous challenge of decarbonising the UK’s heat consumption.”
The United Downs geothermal power plant could start to generate renewable electricity as early as next year. Geothermal electricity generation technology has proved very successful in Europe and beyond, with over 12,500MW currently operational globally.