Government to fund search for geothermal energy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has put £6m on the table to fund exploration for suitable sites to tap into the geothermal energy from deep underground.

Unlike most other renewable sources, geothermal produces a steady supply of energy as the heat remains at much the same level.

The cash announced this week is part of DECC’s low carbon investment fund and is to help search for sites rather than to build the necessary infrastructure to turn the natural energy into a saleable commodity.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt said: “Deep geothermal energy is an exciting and innovative technology that could provide clean, low carbon and renewable power and heat for the UK.

“We want to make sure that this energy resource can play a part in the future low carbon energy mix.

“Deep geothermal power from the South West of England alone could meet 2% of the UK’s annual electricity demand, potentially creating thousands of jobs in the building and running of new power plants.”

Many countries worldwide – including the US and Australia – are switching on to the potential for deep geothermal power to provide low carbon, non-intermittent energy.

Power from deep geothermal would strengthen and diversify the UK’s energy mix and would lessen dependence on imported fossil fuels.

There is currently only one geothermal energy station in the UK – the Southampton District Energy Scheme.

The station uses hot water pumped from 1800m below ground as part of the city’s district heating network and has operated successfully for over 20 years, saving an estimated 11,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Sam Bond

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