In Cornwall, the UK’s first geothermal power plant has just signed a 10-year deal to sell its electricity supply to 10,000 local households.
The plant generates power by mixing water in two wells, one of which is three miles deep, that cut through the Porthtowan fault zone and the red-hot water and granite rocks within it.
the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project was funded during the 2010s through a combination of public and private support. Now fully operational in 12 months, Ecotricity, the world’s first renewable energy company, has signed an agreement to purchase three megawatts of geothermal power for the area.
“Geothermal is a really exciting form of energy that is not currently being exploited in the UK. We are pleased to be part of this project and add power to the energy mix of our customers. said Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity. “It has an important role to play in our plans to decarbonize the country.”
Another buyer came in the form of a local rum distillery, which is preparing a £ 10 million ($ 14 million) contract to mature nearly half a million liters of its rum using a geoheated / powered biome.
But why would anyone bother to dig a three-mile-deep hole when solar panel and wind turbine technologies are advancing as fast as they are?
It is because geothermal energy is always working and not dependent on the weather, and although there can be a lot of wind in Cornwall, the sun is by no means a constant.
Geothermal Engineering Limited, owners of the United Downs plant, responded to a Sunday Times article on the construction, saying that while it is exciting, it is still too early for the plant and any future geothermal development.
“There is a lot of energy below the surface of the Earth,” Ryan Law, managing director of the company, told the London Times. “The limiting factors are drilling costs and connections to National Grid on the surface.”
Still, Ecotricity predicts growth in the island nation’s geothermal capacity, suggesting in a statement that perhaps up to 10% geothermal energy in the national electricity supply could, and perhaps should, be considered as possible.
However, the sites must be seen beyond Cornwall, such as North East England or the South Downs in Hampshire.
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