The Eden Project and EGS Energy Limited announced today (October 14)) that funding has finally been secured to drill the first well for their pioneering geothermal heat and power project.
After a ten-year campaign to bring the green technology to Cornwall, the partners said that the £16.8 million in funding will enable them to start drilling on Eden’s site next summer.
Eden co-founder Sir Tim Smit said the chance to spark an energy revolution amounts to the biggest leap forward for Eden since it opened in a former clay quarry near St Austell in 2001.
Sir Tim said: “Since we began, Eden has had a dream that the world should be powered by renewable energy. The sun can provide massive solar power and the wind has been harnessed by humankind for thousands of years but because both are intermittent and battery technology cannot yet store all we need there is a gap.
“We believe the answer lies beneath our feet in the heat underground that can be accessed by drilling technology that pumps water towards the centre of the earth and brings it back up superheated to provide us with heat and electricity.
“The missing piece of the jigsaw in a 24/7 clean renewable energy future is this baseload. Now we have the green light and the funding to start drilling we are determined to make this technology work. And we want to work with others all over the world – sharing knowledge and encouraging the change as fast as is humanly possible.”
The £16.8 million sum has been secured from a mixture of public and private sources. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has contributed £9.9 million, Cornwall Council has put in £1.4 million. Institutional investors have contributed the remaining £5.5 million.
This will pay for the first phase of the project – drilling one well, a research programme and a heat main, to prove the extent of the resource 4.5km down in the granite that lies beneath the Eden site.
This first well will initially supply a district heating system for Eden’s Biomes, offices and greenhouses. It will pave the way for the second phase – another 4.5km well and an electricity plant.
Completing the second phase will mean that Eden will be generating sufficient renewable energy to become carbon positive by 2023 as well as aiming to be able to provide heat and power for the local area.
To deliver the plan, a new company, Eden Geothermal Limited (EGL) has been formed, comprising shareholders Eden Project Limited, EGS Energy Limited, and BESTEC (UK) Limited, which is a specialist geothermal developer and drilling advisor.
Sir Tim paid tribute to the tenacity of the EGS Energy team and his own colleagues within Eden for enabling drilling to start and expressed huge thanks to the council, the EU and the institutional investors.
He said: “Geothermal will be a game changer for Eden, Cornwall and the UK. The heat will be used for the Biomes, to grow food, as well as helping support the development of our long-awaited hotel.
“Once up and running, our plant will provide more than enough renewable electricity and heat for the whole site, as well as for the local area. We will be drilling for good energy rather than bad.”
Glenn Caplin, chief executive of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “This is another huge step forward in the drive to create a geothermal industry in Cornwall, using our natural assets to decarbonise our economy and create high value jobs.
“Renewable energy is both an environmental and an economic opportunity for Cornwall, which is why clean growth is at the heart of our emerging Local Industrial Strategy.”