REVOLUTIONARY plans have been unveiled for the UK's first commercial plant to harness energy from the rocks beneath the ground of Cornwall.
Geothermal Engineering Ltd has today revealed the proposal to develop a "hot rocks" power plant near Redruth in West Cornwall.
Although ground-breaking technology, Ryan Law, managing director of the firm, said it was not rocket science.
"Geothermal energy has been in use for millennia, even in the UK where the Romans used it for bathing," he said.
The system uses the Earth's natural heat as a sustainable power source.
Wells will be drilled to a depth of around 5km, where temperatures are expected to exceed 170 degrees centigrade.
Water will be pumped down into the rock where it is naturally heated, before being pumped back to the surface as hot water or steam. The heated water will be used to power turbines to generate electricity and as a source of renewable heat.
Mr Law said Cornwall has been chosen to pioneer the UK's first geothermal plant as previous research proved that the county has a suitable heat resource.
A Hot Dry Rock geothermal research project ran in Cornwall between 1976 and 1991. Geothermal energy is already being successfully used in countries including the US, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland.
It is a renewable energy source with a minimal footprint and produces low or zero emissions.
"Modern technology allows us to target deeper, hotter geothermal resources to provide a sustainable source of electricity and heat," said Mr Law.
"Our vision is to provide renewable heat and power at minimal environmental cost. There is significant potential for geothermal energy to encourage investment into the region and re-empower the local community.
"Unlike wind or wave power, which uses local resources to power the national grid, the renewable heat generated by the geothermal plant has to be used locally and will therefore have a direct and positive impact on the local economy and community."
The plant will supply 10MW of base load electricity to the National Grid and up to 55MW of renewable heat for local use.
It is hoped that drilling will start next year, subject to planning approval, with the plant operational by 2013.
Over the next 20 years, Geothermal Engineering Ltd plans to deliver up to 300 MW of clean, sustainable electricity and up to 1GW of renewable heat for communities across the South West.
The Geothermal Engineering Ltd team will be holding a public exhibition to outline the plans for the proposed plant.
The exhibition is running at Carharrack Mills Hall, Carharrack, near Redruth, on Tuesday October 27 between 3pm and 8pm, and the next day between 9am and 1pm.
See details of the plans at www. geothermalengineering.co.uk