Friday, December 17, 2010 - 11:52

A revolutionary new power plant which will draw its energy from deep below the earth’s surface has been given the go-ahead by Cornwall Council.

Planning permission for EGS Energy’s geothermal plant at the Eden Project was given after a period of consultation with the community that received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

Based on Cornish “hot rocks” technology, EGS Energy’s plant design is the result of its team’s extensive experience and successful projects elsewhere in Europe.

The plant will be situated on the north side of the Eden Project site at Bodelva, near St. Austell.

The pioneering plant – which could be the first of its kind in the UK - is due to produce up to 4MW of electrical capacity for use by Eden with the significant surplus (enough for approximately 5,000 houses) going in to the National Grid. In addition, heat produced by the plant will be used to provide warmth for the Eden Project Biomes.

Guy Macpherson-Grant, Managing Director of EGS Energy, said: “Here in Cornwall, the UK’s natural home for geothermal activity and where there is a world class geothermal resource, there is a great opportunity for EGS Energy to deploy the experience and skills of its leading team of experts.

“In establishing this pioneering plant, they will be building on their success in this field elsewhere in Europe, benefiting the local community along with the rest of the country.”

Matt Hastings, Eden’s Energy Manager, said: “It’s great that EGS Energy has permission to proceed with the plant and now the real work begins. We are in the early stages of a massive project which we hope will be the catalyst for a series of geothermal power plants throughout Cornwall.

“If all goes according to plan, EGS technology will provide well-needed resilience to the Cornish power grid while also helping to meet the daunting national challenge of a six-fold increase in renewable electricity and a 22-fold increase in renewable heat by 2020.

“We are also backing the Renewable Energy Association in their efforts to win more Government support for geothermal energy.”

Julian German, cabinet member for Climate Change at Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall Council is extremely positive about the opportunities that geothermal energy will bring to Cornwall and its communities. It is essential that we use our vast array of renewable energy potential and electricity. Heat produced from deep under our land is one of the key resources that can provide Cornwall with national and international leadership.”

The EGS Plant at Eden will consist of a two borehole system – one injection well and one production well, both around four and a half kilometres deep.

Water will circulate between the bottoms of the two wells, where it will be heated by the hot rocks and returned to the surface at approximately 180ºC.

At the surface the heat will be extracted to drive a binary turbine to create electricity and to provide hot water to heat Eden’s Biomes. Further down the line there are potentially community heating, horticultural, industrial or leisure uses for it, before it is returned into the reservoir.

Lord Teverson, former MEP for Cornwall and West Plymouth and current Liberal Democrat spokesman in the Lords for Energy and Climate Change, said: "At the end of the 20th century Cornwall led the way in deep geothermal technology, and the Camborne School of Mines site near Penryn showed the way forward in this vital technology that is now the cause of excitement world-wide.

"Deep geothermal heat and power is a renewable energy that provides energy that is not intermittent, does not blot the landscape, and offers a scale that can make a real difference. It is a natural fit to the other activities and the ethos of Eden, and Cornwall as well. This is an important project that is completely aligned to Cornwall's future as a green community."