Eden Project hot rocks drilling gets £16.8m grant
The Eden Project in Cornwall has secured funding for a £16.8m project to drill the first well for its “hot rocks” geothermal heat and power project.
The £16.8m will pay for the first phase of the project which involves the drilling of one well 4.5km into the granite below the site, a research programme, and a heat main to prove the extent of the resource.
This first well will initially supply a district heating system for Eden’s biomes, offices and greenhouses.
Provided the first phase is successful, a second phase will then involve a second well and an electricity plant.
Completing the second phase will allow the Eden Project to generate enough renewable energy to become carbon positive by 2023, as well as providing heat and power to the local area.
Funding has come from mixture of public and private sources. Cornwall’s final round of EU funding, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has contributed £9.9m. Cornwall Council has put in £1.4m. Institutional investors have contributed the remaining £5.5m.
Eden co-founder Sir Tim Smit said: “Since we began, Eden has had a dream that the world should be powered by renewable energy. The sun can provide massive solar power and the wind has been harnessed by humankind for thousands of years but because both are intermittent and battery technology cannot yet store all we need there is a gap.
“We believe the answer lies beneath our feet in the heat underground that can be accessed by drilling technology that pumps water towards the centre of the earth and brings it back up superheated to provide us with heat and electricity.
“The missing piece of the jigsaw in a 24/7 clean renewable energy future is this baseload. Now we have the green light and the funding to start drilling we are determined to make this technology work. And we want to work with others all over the world - sharing knowledge and encouraging the change as fast as is humanly possible.”
To deliver the plan, a new company, Eden Geothermal Limited (EGL) has been formed. The EGL shareholders are:
- Eden Project
- Geothermal development and consultancy group EGS Energy
- BESTEC (UK), which is affiliated with BESTEC GmbH, the specialist geothermal developer and drilling advisor.
Guy Macpherson-Grant, managing director of EGS Energy, said: “It is exciting that this geothermal development is under way. The geology in the county is particularly well-suited for cost-efficient heat and power generation, and St Austell benefits from particularly high heat flows.”
Augusta Grand, director of Eden Geothermal added: “It is great that we’re now getting going on this project. Geothermal has huge potential to provide baseload heat and power on a very small surface footprint.
“We look forward to being able to demonstrate the advantages of the technology to Eden’s one million visitors a year and encourage greater investment.”
Image: Dreamstime / Gianni Tonazzini