GT Energy, a pioneer in geothermal energy production, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with E.ON UK, one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies, to develop five new deep-geothermal heat and distribution systems.
Under the terms of the partnership, the two companies will collaborate on five projects to tap into the heat that occurs naturally only a few kilometres underground, providing a reliable source of clean energy for homes and businesses. Work on the first of the five projects, located in the North West of England, will begin this year.
Geothermal plants are uniquely suited to an urban setting, where energy demand is at its densest. Just one acre is required for construction and drilling of boreholes, and once this initial phase is complete, a plant’s impact on its surroundings is minimal - all that exists after construction is a small facility to house the well heads.
GT Energy’s agreement with E.ON is part of a shift in focus to UK operations, stimulated by the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) programme. GT Energy was founded in Ireland and has undertaken a number of early projects in the country, including securing planning permission for Ireland’s first geothermal electricity generation plant.
Padraig Hanly, managing director of GT Energy, said, “We are delighted to sign this agreement with E.ON, and together we look forward to harnessing some of the UK’s huge potential for clean geothermal energy. Britain and Ireland are both striving for the same thing: a safe future where our energy needs can be met in a clean, affordable and responsible manner. Central government backing in the UK is already making a huge difference to a fledgling industry. The UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive is a welcome and positive step towards that better future.”
Michael Woodhead, Managing Director of E.ON’s Sustainable Energy business, said: “E.ON is a recognised leader in the delivery of district heating schemes and I’m delighted to be working with GT Energy to design, build and operate the district energy network as well as helping the customers who connect.
“Schemes like these help us reduce our carbon emissions and can help cut customer bills. This scheme is just one of a number that we are delivering across the UK and is part of our commitment to change the way energy is created and used in the UK .”
Scientific studies suggest that the UK is sitting on 100 gigawatts of geothermal potential, up to four per cent of which could be readily accessed by 2030*. The resulting 4GW capacity would be equivalent to 25 per cent of the UK’s 2020 target for renewable energy generation.
These figures illustrate that geothermal projects like those planned by E.ON and GT Energy can form an important part of a nation’s renewable energy mix. Moreover, unlike wind, solar and wave power, deep geothermal plants produce energy smoothly and reliably, around the clock, regardless of the weather.
Heating and hot water accounts for 47 per cent of the UK’s current energy consumption. Almost 80 per cent of the population live in urban areas, making geothermal energy ideally placed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependency on imported oil, and cut the cost of heating homes.
With plans to develop 500MW of capacity, GT Energy has set itself a strategic goal of becoming the UK’s primary provider of renewable heat energy.
Administered by the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the RHI scheme can draw on funds of £70m during 2012/13 to support the development of renewable heat projects like those planned by GT Energy and E.ON.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
* The UK’s geothermal potential was calculated by Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), a global consultancy firm with involvement in more than 3GW of geothermal development across 20 countries. For further details see:
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About GT Energy
GT Energy was founded in Dublin in 2007 to develop deep geothermal electricity and heating projects in the UK and Ireland. The company is recognised as a leading presence in the geothermal energy sector. Full planning permission for the UK and Ireland’s first geothermal electricity plant was received in January 2011. It has a pipeline of projects in development and has put in place a number of strategic partnerships with leading industry participants including E.ON, ESB International together with leading academics from the University of Manchester and Keele University who will provide research and technical advice in the delivery of the pioneering engineering scheme.
The company’s aim is to be the UK’s leading generator of low carbon renewable heat from geothermal resources, an energy source that will make a lasting contribution to fuel poverty, climate change and energy security.
E.ON is one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies – generating electricity, and retailing power and gas – and is part of the E.ON group, one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies. E.ON employs around 12,000 people in the UK and more than 79,000 worldwide;
In the UK, E.ON supplies power and gas to over five million domestic, small and medium-sized enterprise and industrial customers. E.ON also offers innovative energy services and technologies tailored to meet its customers’ needs, and is helping customers become energy fit by encouraging them to insulate their homes, moderate their energy usage and even generate their own power;
E.ON is a market leader in combined heat and power (CHP), and is one of the UK’s leading green generators with 21 wind farms and the UK’s first wave power generator, with another 1,500MW of renewable capacity under development.
E.ON launched its Sustainable Energy business in 2007, providing low carbon energy solutions to businesses;
E.ON is an MCS approved installer and one of only two energy providers accredited under the Government’s Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2 which aims to reduce carbon emissions from buildings in the public and charity sector;
For information on E.ON’s Sustainable Energy business visit www.eonenergy.com/sustainable or call free on 0800 051 5687.
About geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is a natural renewable heat generated at the earth’s core that constantly radiates to the surface. It is harnessed with a production well system that pumps hot water from the aquifer or geothermal reservoir to the surface. A heat exchanger system on the surface is used to extract the heat and the colder geothermal fluid is pumped back down into the reservoir to ensure long term life of the reservoir and to prevent any environmental impact.
Although areas with hot springs tend to receive more attention, in fact the heat of the earth is available everywhere. Depending on the temperature obtained from the reservoir, geothermal resources can be used to provide direct heat through a district heating networks or to generate electricity. Unlike some other renewable technologies, geothermal is independent of climatic variation. It can operate almost 100% of the time, thereby ensuring security of supply.