Deep geothermal resource has potential to produce up to 20% of UK electricity and heat for millions

Courtesy of (2012) but surprisingly no further forward.

A new independent technical report on the potential to generate heat and electricity in the UK from deep geothermal is published today by renowned engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) [2]. The report features a preface by Dr Ryan Law, Chair of the REA Deep Geothermal Sector Group, and a foreword by Tim Smit, co-founder and Chief Executive, Development, of the Eden Project.

Key findings include:

  • The resource is widely spread around the UK with ‘hotspots’ in Cornwall, Weardale, Lake District, East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Worcester, Dorset, Hampshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland;
  • Cost reduction potential is exceptionally high;
  • Deep geothermal resources could provide 9.5GW of baseload renewable electricity – equivalent to nearly nine nuclear power stations – which could generate 20% of the UK’s current annual electricity consumption;
  • Deep geothermal resources could provide over 100GW of heat, which could supply sufficient heat to meet the space heating demand in the UK;
  • Despite this significant potential, the UK support regime is uncompetitive with other European countries.

The SKM report is published as the geothermal power industry awaits the Renewables Obligation (RO) Banding Review. This will determine whether or not the Coalition Government will back the UK industry. The industry has been shocked by initial proposals to freeze support for deep geothermal power at 2 ROCs, a level too low to stimulate domestic investment. Deep geothermal power is a new technology in the UK and it requires similar support to wave and tidal in its initial development phase. The sector is now growing rapidly internationally and support in the UK must be comparable to other countries in order to attract investment.

On account of the exploration risk inherent with geothermal projects, targeted support at the exploration drilling phase has the potential to stimulate the industry much more cost effectively than a high electricity revenue alone. SKM’s report states that: “risk reduction support is the most critical in developing a cost effective large utilisation of the geothermal resources in the UK. This is particularly needed to enable the early development of sedimentary aquifers for direct heat use as this offers the potential for the most significant and early contribution to meeting the UK commitments to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive.”

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Drilling surprise opens door to volcano-powered electricity

Courtesy of The Conversation:

Can enormous heat deep in the earth be harnessed to provide energy for us on the surface? A promising report from a geothermal borehole project that accidentally struck magma – the same fiery, molten rock that spews from volcanoes – suggests it could.

The Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, IDDP, has been drilling shafts up to 5km deep in an attempt to harness the heat in the volcanic bedrock far below the surface of Iceland.

But in 2009 their borehole at Krafla, northeast Iceland, reached only 2,100m deep before unexpectedly striking a pocket of magma intruding into the Earth’s upper crust from below, at searing temperatures of 900-1000°C.

This borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells drilled by the IDDP in Iceland looking for usable geothermal resources. The special report in this month’s Geothermics journal details the engineering feats and scientific results that came from the decision not to the plug the hole with concrete, as in a previous case in Hawaii in 2007, but instead attempt to harness the incredible geothermal heat.


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