Drilling is expected to commence this week to build what could be the first deep geothermal power plant in the UK.
Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) said the facility at United Downs Industrial Estate near St Day in Cornwall will be capable of supplying up to 3MW of electricity – enough to power around 3,000 homes.
Two deep geothermal wells will be drilled into the rock beneath the site, the deepest of which will reach 4.5 kilometres.
Water will be pumped from the deepest well, fed through a heat exchanger at the surface and then re-injected into the ground to pick up more heat from the rocks in a continuous cycle – the extracted heat will be converted into electricity and supplied to National Grid.
Global engineering consultancy Arup has signed an agreement to buy renewable energy guarantee of origin certificates (REGOs) from GEL to power all its offices in the UK.
Dr Ryan Law, GEL Managing Director said: “The largely untapped geothermal resources in the UK have the potential to deliver up to 20% of the UK’s electricity and heat energy needs in a reliable and sustainable way.
“As coal-fired power stations are switched off, the need for renewable, baseload energy can only increase. It is incredibly exciting to see this pioneering project getting off the ground in what we hope will be the start of many similar initiatives across the UK.”
The £18 million project has received £10.6 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund, £2.4 million from Cornwall Council and £5 million from private investors through Abundance Capital.