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Cornwall grants permission for UK's first geothermal energy plant

Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for the development of the UK’s first commercial deep geothermal power plant, near Redruth in Cornwall.

The plant, which will be developed by British company Geothermal Engineering, will be built on a brownfield site within the United Downs industrial estate.

Work will begin in early 2011 to drill 4.5 kilometres into the ground, creating the deepest on-shore well in the UK, to access rocks at temperatures of approximately 200 degrees Celsius.

The plant will be fully operational by 2013 and could provide up to 55 MW of renewable heat energy – the equivalent of heating 20 schools for a year - for the local community, and 10 MW of electricity.

Geothermal Engineering managing director Ryan Law said: “With the development of our plant we want to make deep geothermal energy a significant contributor to the UK’s energy portfolio. Not only can we contribute renewable, continuous power to the grid, we also want to change the way the UK meets its heat demands by offering energy-efficient, decentralised heat.

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change has already estimated that deep geothermal technology could supply between one and five GW of baseload, renewable electricity by 2030.”

The developer is currently pursuing additional funding options with industry partners and the European Regional Development Fund. It was awarded £1.475 million in funding by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in December 2009.