Geothermal power in the United Kingdom

Geothermal power in the United Kingdom

The potential for exploiting geothermal energy in the United Kingdom on a commercial basis was initially examined by the Department of Energy in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. Several regions of the country were identified, but interest in developing them was lost as petroleum prices fell.

Aquifer based schemes

Despite this, Southampton took the decision to create the UK's first geothermal power scheme as part of a plan to become a ‘self sustaining city’ in energy generation, promoted by then leader of the city council Alan Whitehead. Turned down for funding by the Department of Energy, the scheme was eventually developed in conjunction with French-owned company Utilicom Ltd and the Southampton Geothermal Heating Company was then established. Construction started in 1987 on a well to draw water from the Wessex Basin aquifer at a depth of 1,800 metres and a temperature of 76 °C.

The scheme now heats a number of buildings in the city centre, including the Southampton Civic Centre and the WestQuay shopping centre, by providing 8% of the heat distributed by a larger city centre district heating system that includes other combined heat and power sources. [ [ EU Case Study: Geothermal District Heating Project, Southampton] ] Geothermal energy provides 16 GWh of heat per year. [ [, Geothermal Power] , Sara Batley, "De Montfort University", 1996-07-31, accessed 2007-08-06]

Another area with great potential for geothermal energy is in the North Sea, on the continental shelf where the Earth's crust is thin (less than 10 kilometres). The offshore platforms extract hydrocarbons from this region, but each year the output falls by 5% and soon it will be uneconomic to continue using these platforms for fossil fuel extraction. An alternate use could be geothermal power generation. A 1986 pioneering work on this was undertaken by Total Energy Conservation and Management Co. Ltd. An overview document was produced called [ Single Borehole Geothermal Energy Extraction System for Electrical Power Generation]

Hot rock schemes

In addition to using geothermally heated aquifers, Hot-Dry-Rock geothermal technology can be used to heat water pumped below ground onto geothermally heated rock. Starting in 1977, trials of the technology were undertaken at Rosemanowes Quarry, near Penryn, Cornwall.

In 2004 it was announced that a hot rocks project would go ahead on the site of a cement works at Eastgate, near Stanhope in County Durham. The geothermal plant will heat the UK's first geothermal energy model village. [ [ 'Hot rocks' found at cement plant] ]

ee also

*Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
*Ground source heat pumps
*Earth warming tubes
*Renewable energy
*The Geological Society
*Geothermal (geology)
*List of renewable energy topics by country

External links

* [ The Geological Society: Low enthalpy geothermal options for the UK]
** [ Geological Society: Map of geothermal potential in England and Wales]
* [ Geothermal Power Generation in the UK]
* [ Geothermal Implications in the UK by Gresham Clacy, Geophysicist]


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