Geothermal energy involves pumping water up to 5km underground where it is heated by hot rocks before being pumped back up to the surface to either be converted into electricity or used as a source of renewable heat. In contrast to wind power, geothermal is also able to operate steadily 24 hours a day.
Cornwall’s big potential
Most suitable sites for geothermal power are expected to be found in Cornwall, where extensive research in the 1970s and 80s found significant opportunities within the county’s granite bedrock.
The Department for Energy and Climate has backed both projects with more than £2 million in funding in a bid to kick-start the sector.
If successful in its exploratory drilling, the Redruth project would produce 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity and 55MW of renewable heat for the local community.
Ryan Law, managing director of the company behind the project Geothermal Engineering Ltd, said the electricity it could produce over the course of a year was equivalent to 21 wind turbines.