July 20, 2012

GT Energy Announce a "Pioneering Geothermal Energy Project" in Manchester

Earlier this month Irish based GT Energy announced that they had:

Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with E.ON UK, one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies, to develop five new deep-geothermal heat and distribution systems. Under the terms of the partnership, the two companies will collaborate on five projects to tap into the heat that occurs naturally only a few kilometres underground, providing a reliable source of clean energy for homes and businesses.

However they didn't reveal the location of those five plants. Now they have taken the next step, and they announced today that they have:

Plans to tap into the heat that occurs naturally underground and establish the UK’s largest deep-geothermal heat plant. The project will tap into one of the UK’s largest geothermal resources, located beneath Manchester called the Cheshire Basin. This natural energy reservoir equates to the heating consumption of approximately 7 million homes.

The planned project won't actually heat 7 million homes however, since:

The heat plant will be based on two wells of approximately 3,000 metres depth at a half acre site in the Ardwick district of the city. GT Energy will develop the geothermal plant and a program will be developed for the design and build of the district heating network to supply this heat to the Oxford road corridor. A similar project was developed in the UK in the 1980s in Southampton and is still in operation. This plant provides heat to its customers via 14km of district heating pipes.

This will be the largest commercial development of geothermal heating in the UK and follows closely on the introduction of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is the world’s first financial incentive scheme designed to encourage the development of renewable energy for heating. At present, about half of the UK’s carbon emissions derive from the energy used to produce heat, far more than from generating electricity. Administered by the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the RHI scheme can draw on funds of £70m during 2012/13 to support the development of renewable heat projects.

Notwithstanding the recent rocky road for ROCs, it seems the UK government is firmly behind deep geothermal energy, since according to GT Energy once more UK Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

I was delighted to hear about the launch of this exciting scheme in Manchester, and GT Energy and E.ON’s plans for further projects to develop heat networks supplied with deep geothermal heat. This is exactly the sort of innovative green project we want to see sprouting up across the country. This builds on the Coalition’s ambitious heat strategy published in March, and I wish the project every success.

GT Energy's CEO, Padraig Hanly, added that:

We are delighted to be working on this ground breaking project. At present, energy for heating is almost entirely fossil-fuel based, but as geothermal energy is abundant we believe that we can utilise this resource in an economical and efficient way for the benefit of the citizens of Manchester. The RHI is a world leading initiative from the UK government and will boost the development of renewable energy, and GT Energy we will be at the forefront of this.

The only slight fly in the North Western deep geothermal ointment is that:

GT Energy will be seeking the views of local residents and stakeholders as part of its consultation strategy in advance of submission of its planning application to Manchester City Council in September.

Down here in South West England there are already two deep geothermal projects that already have planning permission, and presumably would quite like a share of the RHI pot of gold too. Only last week the Eden Project's two well proposal was front page news in the local press. With rather less recent fanfare than either of their competitors, Geothermal Engineering Limited's chosen location at United Downs near Redruth is just down the road from the site of the UK's ground breaking (literally!) deep geothermal research project at Rosemanowes Quarry in Cornwall. Geothermal Engineering sought the views of local residents and then obtained planning permission for their more ambitious three well project back in August 2010. Geothermal announced last year that not only were they:

Developing the UK’s first commercial-scale geothermal power plant

but also they had:

been awarded £6 million towards the cost of a geothermal plant in Cornwall. The plant will produce 10MW of electricity, to be fed into the National Grid; and 50MW of renewable heat energy, which will be made available for local use. 10MW of electricity is enough to power 20,000 homes, while 50MW of renewable heat is equivalent to the heat needed to supply 20 schools for a year.

According to their Managing Director, Ryan Law:

We are pleased that the government has recognised the potential of the deep geothermal industry in the South West of the UK. The grant will be used to leverage significant levels of private funding into the United Downs deep geothermal project. The geothermal industry was disappointed at the outcome of the Renewable Obligation Certificate Review published at the end of October. However, this grant will help the industry move forward. Once the first plant is operational, we will roll out further projects across Devon and Cornwall which could produce up to a total of 300MW of electricity. The South West has a great geothermal resource and developing this resource will mean more jobs, more British engineering expertise, and more clean energy for the country.

In conclusion, for the moment at least:

Geothermal Engineering Ltd aims to begin drilling the first well onsite in late 2012.

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Comments on GT Energy Announce a "Pioneering Geothermal Energy Project" in Manchester »

July 23, 2012

Jim @ 3:18 pm

P.S. This project now has a page of its own on the GT Energy web site, which clarifies a few points:

GT Energy are seeking to develop a geothermal heat plant at Devonshire Street in Ardwick. The proposed scheme has the potential to supply heat to an equivalent 8,000 homes. The geothermal energy centre will be underground so as to minimise any visual impact. Only the access to the underground chamber will be visible on the surface.

Drilling is expected to take approx. 6 months with an additional 6 months required to complete the construction of the energy centre and commence operation.

GT Energy don't provide an estimate of how long it will take them to get planning permission so they can get started on that drilling.

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