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 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.”
Dr Ryan Law, Managing Director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd. said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with Thrive Renewables for the United Downs project. We are also very excited to be leading a new industry that has the potential to be transformative for this region of the UK. Geothermal, and other connected industries have huge potential in creating not only renewable power and heat energy but also inward investment and jobs for Cornwall. We hope that this will be the start of many similar initiatives across the region."
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.
About the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project:
- The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project has been set up to explore the deep geothermal resources in Cornwall and is working towards making the county’s vision for a low-carbon energy future a reality. www.uniteddownsgeothermal.co.uk
- To establish the United Downs power plant, two deep geothermal wells have been drilled into the granitic rock beneath the site. The wells are directional (j-shaped) to intercept a target geological structure (the Porthtowan Fault). The natural structure enables water to be circulated through the hot rock from the injection well to the production well in a continuous cycle. As the water moves through the rock it picks up heat which is then extracted and converted to electricity at the surface.
- The electricity and heat energy produced from the plant will be continuous (24/7) as geothermal energy does not suffer from the peaks and troughs that many other renewable power sources are subject to.