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'Hot rocks' power plant plans revealed

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: October 13, 2009

  • Image of the proposed 'hot rocks' project

  • Image of the proposed 'hot rocks' project

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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

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    Neville Grundy, Redruth  |  October 30 2009, 5:57PM

    and the band played "Believe it if you like" they tried it in the Seventies and it didnt work !! Next................................pleese

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    D, England  |  October 14 2009, 2:25PM

    Wind turbines are not inefficient and useless, they produce clean electricity and as a country we need to be securing our supply and future. They provide an economic security to the landowners which inturn helps the local economy by pumping more money in. In January 2009, wind turbines in the UK had the capacity to prevent the emission of 3,682,563 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. This surely proves their worth? i welcome all forms of renewable energy as there is little point in only using one idea when there are lots of systems to use. Please stop moaning about what they look like and open your eyes to the destruction being casued by climate change....... that is much more catastrophic!!

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    John Sturman, Newcastle  |  October 14 2009, 8:49AM

    After many years of research and millions of pounds of government money the Hot Dry Rocks research program in Cornwall in the 80's concluded such a project was neither technically or economically feasible. I won't be investing in Geothermal Engineering Ltd.

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    Farringdon Loon, Menabilly  |  October 13 2009, 8:10PM

    Researchers at Rosemanowes quarry led the world in this technology from 1976 until the early 1990s. But it was to be yet another chapter in the growing tome of 'what could have been,' had British engineers and scientists been given proper backing. Instead we have a landscape blighted by ugly, inefficient and ultimately useless wind turbines. The 'reservoir' created some 2 miles beneath the Cornish soil at Rosemanowes could now be created much more readily by new directional drilling methods. Good luck to those at Geothermal Engineering. Maybe back in the '70s the team at Rosemanowes was concentrating too much on generating electricity from the heat extracted from the ground, and not sufficiently on more modest district heating. Now I suspect that both forms of energy extraction are for the taking .

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    Gareth Thomas, Plainmoor , Torquay  |  October 13 2009, 2:35PM

    What everyone will be asking themselves at this time is, "is Reg a blot on the landscape of planet Earth", and the answer is a resounding yes.

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    B Jenkins, Truro  |  October 13 2009, 12:09PM

    Lets hope they don't wreck it this time. The Long Rock project turned out to be just a money waster when an underground explosive was over done scrapping the whole scheme..

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    Reg, Pt  |  October 13 2009, 11:04AM

    Will the structures supporting such a venture be a blot on the landscape, I ask myself? It's bad enough with the wind turbine structures on land when they could be 3 - 5 miles out at sea where they wouldn't interfere with anybody - will these be the same. I have not seen any photos etc of a finished Property Estate in this regard.

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