Research from the University of Durham has found that many towns in need of investment lay above a network of untapped geothermal activity – a great renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels. These areas have been flagged by the government as part of their plans to install a large grid of underground geothermal plants. The instalments could drastically improve the areas as the government continues to roll out it’s plan to “level up” much needed regions of the UK.
UK MP Keiran Mullan commented on the new plans stating that geothermal gives us an advantage over solar and wind due to the technology providing a “baseload – it is there constantly. And our expertise in drilling in the North Sea means we are well placed to motor ahead.” When looking at geothermal energy, the UK in theory has enough trapped underground to heat every home for one hundred years. Additionally, it could also help the UK cut it’s import of fossil fuels and rely only on the gas in the North Sea.
Harnessing geothermal energy is done via boreholes deep into the earth, up to 3 miles down. Cold water is then injected at low pressure into one hole where it sinks to hot rocks beneath the Earth’s surface. The water is then heated and pushed back to the surface via a second hole where the energy can be converted into heat for homes and businesses or used to generate electricity.
Towns and regions that could benefit from these include many in the north that have been identified by the government as in need of extra funding and support. Hartlepool, Northumberland, and Redcar to name a few, appear in the top 10 index of local authorities in need of ‘levelling up’. When looking at other countries in Europe, geothermal energy plays an important role in their sustainable developments. Over 250,000 homes are reliant upon geothermal energy in Paris. The German government has also committed the equivalent of £860m by 2035 to create 100 geothermal projects.
Rishi Sunak has commented on this report, stating that it would be decisive in the governments decision as to whether geothermal can play a bigger role within the UK economy. He goes on to say, “We have made rapid progress on switching to homegrown renewable electricity and have made energy security a key priority. Success is going to depend on pulling all the levers at our disposal”.
This new research has the potential to not only provide a great, local alternative to our heavy fossil fuel usage, but also give a much needed economic uplift to many areas of the UK that has felt the drastic rise in the cost of living the most. With renewables being the key to a sustainable future for all, this discovery should give the push the government needs to make much needed commitments to geothermal energy.
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