The UK’s first operating deep geothermal heating plant since 1986 was opened today at the Eden Project in Cornwall and is now generating heat.
A 3.3 mile long shaft has been drilled into the Earth’s crust (making it the longest geothermal well in the UK). A 4000m vacuum insulated tube has been inserted into the well, lifting hot water from deep below. This is passed through a heat exchanger, delivering heat at about 85 degrees Centigrade, and the cooled water is re-injected into that well via the outer ring.
The process of drilling deep into the Cornish granite that sits under Eden’s biomes was finished in 2021. Eden Geothermal Ltd has now completed the heat main (the means by which the heat circulates around the site) and plant and is ready to supply heat to the Eden Project and its new Growing Point nursery
To fund the research project, Eden Geothermal secured £24m funding from a combination of European Regional Development Fund, Cornwall Council and commercial funding from GCP Infrastructure Investments.
The Growing Point nursery has been built between the geothermal site and the Biomes. It is intended to serve as a demonstrator of regenerative sustainability and a circular system in both its construction and operation, eliminating the need for a pre-existing off-site nursery, reducing food-miles and dependence on fossil fuels. It will enable Eden’s Living Landscapes Team to produce all the plants for the Rainforest Biome, Mediterranean Biome Outdoor Gardens and retail, as well as food for the hundreds of thousands of visitors Eden welcomes every year.
In the Netherlands, geothermal plants are already used to heat greenhouses, and its government is aiming for it to contribute to a quarter of all their heating by 2050. The Eden Project’s geothermal well could be a precursor to more widespread adoption of the technology in the UK.
Philip Kent, GCP’s investment adviser said “In other countries, like the Netherlands and France, geothermal is making a serious contribution to achieving net zero and energy security targets. With the right policy support, the UK has a huge opportunity to benefit from a resource that can meaningfully contribute to the decarbonisation and improved security of our electricity and heat systems.”
[Another good news story from a great investment company that inexplicably trades on a 30% plus discount and offers a 9%+ dividend yield. Operational assets are less risky than ones in construction, so it may be that this provides a modest uplift to GCP Infrastructure’s NAV.]
GCP : GCP-financed geothermal well at Eden Project operational