Hot rock funding gets cool response

This week’s government announcement that funding worth £1m is to be made available for geothermal energy research has received a lukewarm response from the Renewable Energy Association. The Deep Geothermal […]

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By Kelvin Ross

This week’s government announcement that funding worth £1m is to be made available for geothermal energy research has received a lukewarm response from the Renewable Energy Association.

The Deep Geothermal Energy Fund, run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will be open to applications until October 29. The fund will help companies carry out exploratory work needed to find viable sites for this technology.

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said: “This is actually a cut, as the original fund was £2m. What this new industry really needs is specific recognition under the forthcoming renewable heat incentive.

“At the moment it is lumped in with ground source heat pumps, and the two are completely different technologies. These hot rocks can also be used for power generation – but we won’t have projects coming forward unless it gets similar levels of support to wave and tidal energy.”

Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering, the first company to gain planning permission for a commercial geothermal power plant in the UK, said: “Britain has a significant geothermal resource. In parts of the country the underground temperature is over 200 degrees Celsius – it’s like having a renewable power station under our feet.

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change is predicting that 3% of the total electricity demand will be met by geothermal energy technology by 2030. The ultimate vision of the industry is closer to 7%. With government backing, we can make this a reality.”