Login Register

'Hot rocks' geothermal energy plant promises a UK first for Cornwall

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: August 17, 2010

  • Harnessing the energy of hot rocks

Comments (0)

Cornwall's mining heritage will be thrust into the 21st century after plans to build the country's first geothermal energy plant were given the go-ahead.

Work is now expected to begin on the United Downs Industrial Park near Redruth, West Cornwall, after the £40million project was given planning permission by Cornwall Council.

Members of the council's strategic planning committee unanimously voted in favour of Geothermal Engineering Ltd's plan, which councillors said could put Cornwall "on the map".

The groundbreaking project will involve three wells being drilled deep into the rock. This would create energy by allowing water to be super-heated by the Earth.

Some nearby residents have voiced concerns about the visual and noise impacts of the drilling and the turbines included as part of the project. Others have raised objections on the grounds that the project is, in their view, "not needed". However, committee members were guided by council officers, who recommended giving the scheme the green light.

Case officer Ellis Crompton- Brown's report, presented to the committee, recognised local concerns, but also identified the need for reducing dependency on non-renewable resources.

The report added: "Issues regarding the impact on local amenity in relation to noise during construction and drilling would be limited in time and potential noise from operations could be controlled by planning condition.

"The development would assist in contributing towards renewable energy generation, maximising environmental and economic benefits while minimising adverse local impacts."

Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd, said: "With the development of our plant we want to make deep geothermal energy a significant contributor to the UK's energy portfolio.

"Not only can we contribute renewable, continuous power to the grid, we also want to change the way the UK meets its heat demands by offering energy-efficient, decentralised heat. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has already estimated that deep geothermal technology could supply between one and five GW of baseload, renewable electricity by 2030."

The £40 million project is considered a key component in the aim to position the South West at the forefront of green technology.

Cornwall is seen as one of the best locations for pioneering renewable technology, such as the Wave Hub project off the Hayle coastline, because of its plentiful wind and wave power opportunities.

Cornwall councillor Neil Plummer, the former Independent Group member who recently joined Mebyon Kernow, backed the scheme.

He said: "The one fundamental question we have to ask is: Is this to the benefit of the public?

"I believe it is. Our geological wealth could be the answer to the future of the oil crisis.

"We know we're going to run out of resources and I don't think we can argue against this massively important opportunity.

"We can be the first Celtic country to be self-sufficient."

The council's planning and housing cabinet member, Mark Kaczmarek, himself a former miner, added: "This will put Cornwall on the map. Many people support this and I think we will see more applications of a similar nature in the future."

Drilling work will begin in early 2011.

Read more from Western Morning News

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Onan Hag All, Kernow, a proud nation  |  August 18 2010, 9:13AM

    We must be wary that teh insidious incremental creeping sequestration of Kernow's national and natural resources are now sold to foreign nations by the English Imperial State!!! Kernow's hot rock power should be utilised to bring prosperity to the people of Kernow first and then sold at a higher price to the neigbouring country of England to fund Kernow's standing as a proud nation within teh Celtic congress first, then as part of that Island which includes our Celtic brothers in Cymru and Alba!

    Rate   1
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Steve, Camborne  |  August 17 2010, 4:28PM

    Thi is the type of rig I would expect to see: - http://www.bentec.de/fileadmin/dl/Euro_Rig__350_mt_181109_Email_01.pdf

    Rate 0
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Steve, Camborne  |  August 17 2010, 3:58PM

    Mike, you are absolutely spot on, if this project is successful it will pave the way for between 20 & 30 of these projects in CORNWALL - these plants can not go eleswhere (Except West Devon) as the geothermal gradient is best here. There are lots of guys in Cornwall working as drillers, generally in shallow drilling with companies like Seacore, Saxtons, Carnon and Western United Mines, these developments will bring more drilling jobs and opportunities for locals to train and travel the world with their new skills. Then there will be the fitting jobs in constructing the plants, welders, electrical engineers, Work for Western Power in connecting these plants, plant operators and maintenance engineers. With a large number of these plants there will be a local market for the manufacture of equipment. Then there is the possibility of attracting large industry, these plants produce a lot of hot water, while near town locations could use this water to heat homes, many industries spend a lot of money heating things as part of a process, this hot water through heat exchangers could be used to make industrial processes cheaper and negate the adverse transport costs in the county. This technology is now proven, Hot Rocks was the precursor, it highlighted the problems that had to be overcome. I know some of the engineers who went to Switzerland after the Thatcher government pulled the plug and carried on the research and since these systems are now working and producing electric - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this could be the holy grail for power supply. I am glad that the council has seen sense to grab this opportunity. For the first time I am starting to feel positive about Cornwall's future. Last weeks news of the plans for Crofty being submitted was fantastic, the price of Tin is rapidly approaching £15,000 a tonne, with stock levels now standing at 14 days consumption, failing production in Indonesia and Peru, continuing year on year demand increases in the region of 10%, experts are suggesting price levels of £35,000/tonne by 2012 - at that level Cornwall will be awash with exploration rigs which I am convinced will show what I believe - The metal wealth discovered to date in Cornwall is the tip of the Iceberg, by 2020 Cornwall could be a mining powerhouse once more.

    Rate 0
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    TimV, Pz  |  August 17 2010, 3:40PM

    Is someone thinking ahead? This technology lends itself to district heating. How about an integrated plan for a development of affordable, low energy, houses?

    Rate 0
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Mike Hunt, St Awfull  |  August 17 2010, 3:21PM

    One other point is they will need local rig hands as well, so as soon as the drilling contractor is announced they will have a few jobs going for unskilled roustabouts. It would be a great shame to see our scotish cousins getting all the work as they have the previous experience.

    Rate 0
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Mike Hunt, St Awfull  |  August 17 2010, 3:16PM

    They have hot rocks projects all over the world, Australia, Germany, the US so Stepehen is correct. However the CSM project was merely that a project to see if it was viable. They failed for a number of reasons, not deep enough, failure to keep the fractures open. Wheras this project is the real deal. 40 million, a massive german land rig (presumably a state of the art Deutag one) 3 wells so over a years work and thats just phase 1. I can't tell you what this could mean to the Cornish economy as the Hot rocks they want to tap into run from Exeter to the Scilliys, so if this works and they can keep it going then we could be on the verge of a drilling bonanza not unlike the heddy days of the north sea in the 1970's but with the only enviromental impact being a bit of hot water. As you can tell I am in the drilling industry myself and this really is a no brainer for Cornwall. What I suggest everyone does is figure out how they can make some money off this. The rig crew will need somewhere to stay near the rig, They will need to get to the rig, they will need to eat at the rig and after the 12 hour shift and these guys don't really worry about price as the cost of the rig for a day is so high the last thing they want to to be caught waiting because the crew couldn't get there on time. I will be sticking in my CV ASAP

    Rate 0
    Report
  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    kirby stephen, hot rocks  |  August 17 2010, 12:33PM

    They did hot rocks geothermal in Cornwall years ago its not a new idea CSM did it but it never worked out. So whats new? Its not "groundbreaking" Thats like relaunching the allegro and calling it "groundbreaking idea!"

    Rate 0
    Report

      YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

       
       

      MORE NEWS HEADLINES