Thursday, 16 September 2021

Geothermal Power in Cornwall

In Cornwall, we are privileged to have access to a beautiful landscape with a wealth of resources and have a rich history of leading the world in new and innovative technologies. At the height of the tin mining era, Camborne and Redruth were once some of the wealthiest towns in the land. However, as the tin mines closed, the fortunes of our local towns fell behind other parts of the country, but this is changing. 

There are several businesses across Cornwall that are working hard to create new, green industries that make use of the natural resources in a sustainable way. Recently, Cornwall hosted world leaders as part of the G7 summit, which gave us a very positive opportunity to promote some of the leading work that Cornwall does on green energy and the environment. Some thirty years ago, Cornwall was home to the first-ever wind farm in the UK, now plans for locating offshore wind in Hayle are swiftly taking shape and we are leading the country in the development of Lithium mining and Geothermal Energy. 

The first deep geothermal power project in the UK is here in Cornwall at United Downs. Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) is a small Cornish company which has successfully proved the concept by drilling two deep wells, one to bring the naturally hot water to the surface and the other to deposit the used fluid back underground. Geothermal electricity is known as baseload, because it is generated 24/7 regardless of the weather at the surface, balancing out the peaks and troughs of other renewable energy sources. 

While the geothermal powerplant at United Downs is expected to be supplying electricity for the National Grid by the end of 2022, GEL have just announced that following their initial success, they are looking at opening four new sites. These new prospective sites are located in Tolvaddon, Manhay, Mawla and Penhallow.

Climate change and environmental concerns more widely have risen up the agenda in recent years. Fifteen years ago, David Cameron made it a central part of his agenda. When the Conservatives came to power, we brought our environmental agenda with us. The UK has made significant progress over the last decade and is the best performing G20 country. We have reduced carbon emissions by about 44% so far and we have ambitious policies that will achieve more in the years ahead. We were the first country to introduce a Climate Change Act which sets targets for emission reduction. We have met the first two carbon budget targets and we are on course to meet the third in a couple of years’ time.

However, everyone recognises that there is more to do to achieve our targets later this decade, particularly with the UK hosting the COP-26 summit in Glasgow later this year. Cornwall has led the country on innovative technology in the past, we can be proud that we are continuing this tradition by helping the whole country by cutting emissions, and establishing a pathway to protect our precious environment for future generations.

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