DECC urged to follow Scotland's lead on geothermal exploration
The renewables industry has urged the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to investigate the potential of geothermal energy, after the Scottish Government green-lit five feasibility studies north of the border.
The research, costing a total of £234,000, will be carried out in Fife, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire and Aberdeenshire
It will aim to explore the technical feasibility, economic viability and environmental sustainability of geothermal power plants at the various sites.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “These projects will help improve our understanding of this renewable energy source and the contribution it can make to helping Scotland reduce its carbon emissions.
Geothermal energy is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil. That steam is then converted into power much the same way as a traditional power stations, using turbines, generators and transformers.
Scotland's pioneering spirit was welcomed by the renewables industry and sparked calls for DECC to match Scotland’s ambition.
Renewable Energy Association (REA) head of external affairs James Court said: “Geothermal technology offers large-scale renewable heat, and will make the most of the Scotland’s abundant sub-surface assets. This ambition and far-sightedness on the part of the Scottish Government is therefore very much welcome.
“Our research estimates that with the right policy framework and support in place, deep geothermal could produce up to 100GW of renewable heat – as much as the United Kingdom’s annual heat demand. We are therefore hopeful that the ambition for geothermal being demonstrated in Scotland is replicated in DECC.”
A DECC spokesperson told edie that it was difficult to speculate on the department’s approach to geothermal energy going forward, because the new Government has yet to lay out its plans for the technology.
The spokesperson added: “DECC is already supporting feasibility work on a number of projects that are considering deep geothermal or mine water heat recovery as part of the £9.7m funding allocated to Local Authorities under the previous Government.
“In addition, Stoke City Council has the support of £20m ‘City Deal’ funding for the district heating network which is aiming to make use of geothermal heat. There is also support for geothermal technologies through an innovation programme.”