Courtesy of REA.net (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) . 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.”