Does Geothermal have a role in the UK's Energy mix?

It's January 2021 and a 3MW baseload of Geothermal power has been agreed to be sold from Geothermal Engineering Ltd (United Downs geothermal power plant in Cornwall) to Ecotricity and into the UK national grid. This will be the first geothermal power to be produced and used in the UK!

United Downs Geothermal Power Plant - https://geothermalengineering.co.uk

It's a shame that currently Geothermal power is often missed out of the UK's energy plans. In the recent Energy White Paper, published December 2020, not a single mention of geothermal power is included. This should not be the case!

It is true that the potential for generating geothermal electricity in the UK is significantly lower than countries with active volcanism, however, this project proves that geothermal energy can contribute to the energy mix. The scale of electricity generation from geothermal energy in the UK is unlikely to ever match other forms of renewable energy (such as wind and solar). However, geothermal could become pivotal in helping move towards the energy transition through its use in Direct Heating Systems. These are becoming common place in some countries that share similar geothermal resources to the UK and are used to provide energy heating homes and industrial areas.

The Netherlands has over 17 geothermal district heating systems already active (TROVE Geothermal January 2021) and big plans moving forward. The municipality of Amsterdam recently published its Heating Transition Vision outlining the aim of having 250,000 homes heated by geothermal power.

In the UK, heating homes currently accounts for around one third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. The Earth's natural heat could have a significant part to play in reducing these emissions. Is enough currently being done by regulators and governing bodies to promote this under-used, clean energy source?


The United Downs project is a binary plant - to find out what this means and learn more about how geothermal energy works, read our blog:

What is geothermal energy?

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