Construction has officially kicked off on the inaugural geothermal power plant in the United Kingdom’s Cornwall region, marking a pivotal moment in the nation’s renewable energy journey. Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL) spearheads this groundbreaking venture, with plans for the power plant to commence renewable electricity generation by the latter part of 2024.
Backed by an initial commercial investment in 2020, followed by an additional £3 million injection in 2023, the project has gained momentum as it progresses towards its final stages. Activity at the United Downs site is bustling, with GEL aiming for completion by summer, paving the way for power production by year’s end.
The innovative approach of the United Downs facility involves tapping into natural heat reservoirs within hot granite rocks through two deep wells drilled and tested in 2019 and 2020. This method holds promise for sustainable energy solutions, with projections aiming to supply power and heat to approximately 70,000 households in Cornwall by 2028.
Recent tests at United Downs have uncovered encouraging results, with geothermal fluid from the wells boasting one of Europe’s highest lithium concentrations, measured at 340 parts per million (ppm). This discovery positions the UK as a potential hub for lithium production, crucial for supporting the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) industry while promoting sustainability.
Matthew Clayton, Managing Director of Thrive Renewables, has expressed excitement for the project’s implications, emphasizing its role in creating green jobs and establishing Cornwall as a leader in environmental innovation. This initiative underscores geothermal energy’s significant potential to meet regional energy needs while advancing sustainable development goals.
GEL secured three Contracts for Difference last year, marking the UK’s first-ever contracts awarded for geothermal energy. These agreements ensure a fixed price for the sale of renewable electricity generated at United Downs and two other sites, Manhay and Penhallow, fostering financial viability and encouraging further investment in renewable energy infrastructure.
With construction in full swing and promising prospects for sustainable energy production, the project signifies a pivotal moment in the UK’s transition towards a greener, more sustainable future.