Construction begins on UK’s first geothermal power plant

  • Posted: 29 Jan 2024

The United Downs site is expected to start producing renewable electricity by late 2024.

Construction work is underway at United Downs in Cornwall, the UK’s first geothermal power plant. Having provided the first commercial funding for the project in 2020 and a further £3 million investment in 2023, we’re pleased to see the start of this exciting final phase. Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL) expect construction work to be completed by summer this year, with the first power to be produced towards the end of 2024.  

We were delighted to be on site to see the start of construction at United Downs alongside other investors.

The United Downs plant will be harnessing heat from hot granite rocks via two deep wells which were drilled and tested in 2019 and 2020. From this site and other proposed sites in Cornwall, GEL are hoping to produce enough power and heat for 70,000 homes by 2028. 

Recent testing at United Downs has shown that geothermal fluid within the wells has one of the highest concentrations of lithium in Europe at 340 parts per million (ppm). This sustainably produced UK lithium has the potential to fulfil a significant portion of the UK’s lithium, helping to support the growing EV industry.   

“It’s hugely exciting to see the UK’s first geothermal electricity generation project just steps away from providing our first electricity. As well as being a source of renewable power, heat and lithium, United Downs will boost green jobs in the region, helping to cement Cornwall’s place as a leader in environmental innovation. The project sets an inspiring precedent for the huge potential of geothermal in this county”. – Matthew Clayton, Managing Director, Thrive Renewables.

Last year GEL were awarded three Contracts for Difference, the first ever for geothermal in the UK. These contracts guarantee a set price for the sale of renewable electricity at United Downs and their other two sites at Manhay and Penhallow.