Thrive makes further £3 million investment to get the UK’s first deep geothermal plant into operation

  • Posted: 08 Mar 2023

After providing the first commercial funding for the United Downs Geothermal project in 2020, we’ve made an additional investment to complete construction at the site.

Thrive has invested a further £3 million into the pioneering geothermal electricity generation project United Downs Geothermal in Cornwall.

The new funding will be used to complete construction of the project by 2024. The site operator – Geothermal Engineering Limited – predicts United Downs will deliver 2Mwe of baseload electricity once operational, and up to 10MWth of zero carbon heat, which will be used by a large housing estate at Langarth, developed by Cornwall Council.

£15 million has been raised in total, with an additional £12 million has been investment from Kerogen, a private equity fund manager specialising in international energy.

“Geothermal resources have the potential to produce carbon free electricity and heat 24/7 within UK borders and we are delighted to welcome this further investment in our journey to realising the huge potential of this important renewable energy source. We are excited to work with both local and national Government to maximise this opportunity and make the UK a world leader in geothermal energy. With its mining and industrial heritage, and geological expertise the UK is well placed to succeed. Alongside geothermal power and heat production, our trials at site suggest that there is also the opportunity to develop a strong, zero carbon domestic lithium industry linked to the power plants.” – Ryan Law, Managing Director, Geothermal Engineering Ltd

Thrive made the first commercial investment of £3 million into United Downs in January 2020 to support final testing and preparation of wells at the site, as well as £0.47 million into Geogen in 2021 to fund planning applications for additional potential geothermal sites in the UK. Two of these sites – Penhallow and Manhay – have now received planning permission.

“Having provided the first commercial funding into United Downs, which has enabled it to reach the construction stage, we are delighted to make a further investment to get this ground-breaking project into operation. United Downs will provide vital renewable baseload power to replace coal and gas, reliable heat to the local community, and could be the start of a whole new sustainable industry across Cornwall bringing green jobs and investment into the county. As a pioneering clean energy investor, we are pleased to be part of this significant step in the UK’s transition to a cleaner energy system.” – Matthew Clayton, Managing Director, Thrive Renewables

“Geothermal energy holds enormous untapped potential as a renewable energy source, with the ability to generate around-the-clock power and heat for UK households. This investment will help the UK realise the potential of this exciting resource, providing skilled green jobs and supporting local industry in Cornwall, while helping to deliver a cleaner energy future.” – Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero

The UK has significant geothermal resources which, if harnessed, can play an important role in both the UK’s energy security and its transition to net zero. Geothermal technology offers a homegrown, low carbon and sustainable form of energy. Crucially, this technology is capable of generating 24/7 baseload power, enabling the UK to diversify its energy market whilst providing large scale and predictable capacity.

It also holds significant potential for local, low-carbon lithium production – with GEL finding a high concentration of lithium in the geothermal fluids at United Downs – which could then be used to support the roll out of electric cars in the UK.