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Eden Project launches UK’s first deep geothermal plant in 37 years

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Energy Global,

Eden Geothermal has opened the UK’s first operating deep geothermal heating plant since 1986, which is now generating heat at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The process of drilling deep into the granite at the home of the Biomes in Cornwall was finished in 2021, and Eden Geothermal Ltd (EGL) has now completed the heat main and plant and is ready to supply heat to the Eden Project and its new state-of-the art nursery, Growing Point.

The well has a vertical depth of 4871 m (just over 3 miles). The measured depth – the actual length of the well – is 5277 m (nearly 3.3 miles), the longest geothermal well in the UK. The geothermal heat system is a single well coaxial system. A 4000 m vacuum insulated tube has been inserted into the well, lifting hot water from deep below. This is passed through a heat exchanger and the cooled water is then re-injected into well via the outer ring.

The heat is delivered via a 3.8 km heat main, at around 85°C, which will supply Growing Point and Eden’s Biomes and offices.

The geothermal project has been delivered by EGL, a three-way partnership between Eden Project Limited, EGS Energy Limited, a geothermal development and consultancy group, and BESTEC (UK) Limited, affiliated with BESTEC GmbH, the specialist geothermal developer and drilling advisor.

To fund the research project, EGL secured £24 million funding from a combination of European Regional Development Fund, Cornwall Council, and commercial funding from GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited, an investment trust advised by Gravis Capital Management Ltd.

Sir Tim Smit KBE, Co-Founder of the Eden Project, said: “Geothermal is the sleeping giant of renewables: lying not under our noses, but literally under our feet. The Netherlands’ geothermal industry started with heating for greenhouses, and they are now aiming for it to contribute to one-quarter of all their heating by 2050.”

Gus Grand, CEO of EGL, added: “This is a big moment for Eden Geothermal and renewables in the UK, but we’ve only just begun: in the race to decarbonise, progress has been slow for heat technologies, behind electricity and transport, but geothermal energy, with its small surface impact, can be used in urban areas and for large institutions, factories, hospitals, universities and schools. This project is a great demonstration, heating a whole rainforest and commercial nursery, with hopefully a distillery on the way.”

Richard Day, Chairman of EGL, commented: “Geothermal offers a real opportunity for the oil and gas industry to transform itself and become part of the solution. Not only are the expertise and technology for geothermal directly transferrable, but coaxial systems like this could be used to repurpose oil and gas wells.”

Philip Kent, Director at Gravis Capital Management, stated “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.”

Dr Joerg Baumgaertner, Technical Delivery Partner of the project and CEO of Bestec (UK) Ltd, concluded: “The deep single well coaxial heat exchanger which we start today is in itself an exciting experiment, which will provide insight and valuable data of this specific technology which we expect to become an important addition to the wide spectrum of geothermal clean energy applications.”



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