Manchester to get UK's largest geothermal plant

The UK’s largest commercial, deep geothermal heat plant is to be built in Ardwick, Manchester, as part of plans unveiled last week by Anglo-Irish firm, GT Energy.
 
The company intends to drill two different wells, about 3,000 metres deep, which will tap into a natural energy reservoir that extends from Manchester to Shropshire, known as the Cheshire Basin.
 
Water will be pumped down the wells to be heated by hot rocks below, at temperatures of up to 100 degrees centigrade, before being returned to the surface.
 
The aim is to provide a cheaper source of energy for local homes, businesses and other buildings, including the University of Manchester’s facilities along the Oxford Road corridor.
 
If successful, the multi-million-pound project could also pave the way for similar developments to be established across the country.
 
'Innovative'
 
Climate change minister, Greg Barker, hailed the initiative as: "exactly the sort of innovative green project we want to see sprouting up across the country".
 
It is thought that, once tapped, the Cheshire Basin could continue producing useful geothermal energy for up to 300 years.
 
The Government is working towards a target of generating 5,000 Giga-Watt-hours (GWh) of electricity and 32,000 GWh of heat from geothermal sources by 2030. It has calculated that the UK has a total geothermal capacity of about 100 Giga-Watts (GW).
 
Heating is currently responsible for about a third of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, because the vast majority still comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
 
'A new wave'
 
GT Energy’s chief executive, Padraig Hanly said: "Hidden beneath the streets of Manchester is a massive natural energy resource that we propose to tap into to create a leading facility that will put the supply and control of heating directly into the local community. 
 
"…This will be one of the UK’s largest commercial offerings of geothermal heating and will put Manchester at the heart of a new wave of geothermal projects."
 
Planning permission
 
A consultation with local residents and stakeholders is currently underway, to help inform the final design proposals for the Ardwick plant.
 
Once this closes, a planning application for the Ardwick district heating scheme is due to be submitted to Manchester City Council in September and the aim is to secure support from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.
 
If permission is granted, GT Energy hopes to have the half-acre site up and running within two years. 
 
England already has a geothermal plant in Southampton but it is more than 30 years old and was built on a much smaller scale. By contrast, in Europe, the plants are relatively commonplace, with 34 in Paris alone.

Posted under General Interest on 24 July 2012