Green Britain: Geologist explains how geothermal site works

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Russian gas cuts have raised the alarm across Europe as tightened supplies threaten to further push up the already staggeringly high bills seen across the continent. While Britain only gets four percent of its gas from Russia, the supply squeezes are having a knock-on effect on UK consumers due to the integrated nature of the gas market, threatening to push millions of households into fuel poverty.

And with horror price cap warnings revealing that Britons may have to fork out around £4,200 to pay off the maximum annual tariff on their energy bills by January, the situation appears dire.

This has prompted experts and ministers to call for a rapid boost to the UK’s supplies of homegrown energy to shield it from the volatile international gas markets which are worsening the cost-of-living crisis.

According to Dr Corinna Abesser, from the British Geological Survey, one solution could be boosting the UK’s capacity for geothermal energy.

Geothermal energy is heat created and stored in the ground and is a source of low-carbon, renewable energy.

Available throughout the UK, has previously reported on the abundance of the energy source that Britain could tap into to unleash this cheap and clean energy source.

Karl Williams, Director for the Centre of Waste Management at the University of Central Lancashire told back in July: “The UK has excellent potential for geothermal energy.

“We are fortunate that we can utilise all the different types of geothermal energy recovery.

“We are fortunate that we can utilise all the different types of geothermal energy recovery.

“From ground source heat pumps providing low-level heat, to recovery of mine water energy – a legacy of our industrial heritage – all the way up to granite infusion and temperatures in excess of 130C.”

But according to Dr Abesser, regulatory systems, licensing and management are urgently needed for the UK’s geothermal sector to take off.
Dr Abesser also argues that Government support is needed to help develop the sector, which could provide heat or power all year long, no matter the weather.

Currently, geothermal technologies deliver less than 0.3 percent of the UK’s annual heat demand, Dr Abesser notes in an opinion piece for Energy Voice.

She adds that Britain is only using a fraction of the estimated available geothermal heat resources available.

Dr Abesser writes that the issues lies with, according to some stakeholders, “the absence of long-term targets and policies that support the development of skills, supply chains and a service industry”.

She claims these are some of the “main reasons why geothermal energy in the UK has fallen behind that of other, similar countries”.

She adds that there is a lack of information about the “application of geothermal technologies in the UK”, which may require “long-term Government support to develop pilot projects and expand the industry”.

Dr Abesser concludes: “Developing the geothermal sector and realising this untapped potential, could provide considerable economic stimulus and employment opportunities.

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“This might include the redeployment of technologies and workers from the oil and gas industry, the latter having many transferable skills and experiences in risk assessment and mitigation, deep-drilling, reservoir development and management.”

This comes as after Mr Williams pinpointed three locations which would be perfect for harnessing geothermal energy in the UK.

The best areas where geothermal energy can be extracted are reportedly areas where “hot rocks” granite is close to the surface.

He told “Cornwall is one of the best areas in the UK and has always been the main focus for geothermal energy.

“For example, the Eden project is investing in geothermal energy at its site.

“The other obvious area would be Aberdeen, which is rich in granite.

“This area has the advantage that it is the centre for oil and gas exploitation and much of the processes and technologies are the same so Aberdeen already has the skills and know-how.

“The old coal mine areas of the North East could also be good contenders, but mine water is a lower temperature and lends itself more to large scale applications similar to ground source heat pumps.”

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