Category Archives: Renewables

Geothermal Energy in Cornwall

Plans are unfolding to create the UK’s first geothermal power project near Redruth Cornwall. United Downs Deep Geothermal Power aims to be in operation by 2020. 99.9% of the planet is at a temperature greater than 100 degrees Centigrade. The geothermal gradient (temperature increase with depth) in Cornwall is higher than other areas of the UK and extensive research from the mid-70s has pin-pointed opportunities for geothermal energy.

The proposed power plant will be built and operated by Geothermal Engineering Ltd. Initially the plant will supply up to 3.15MW of electricity to the grid. In November 2011, Geothermal Engineering was awarded a grant of £6m from the European Regional Development Fund towards the cost of the project and drilling of the first well was expected to begin in late 2012. However in April 2013, the grant was withdrawn due to the company’s failure to attract private funding for the project. In 2017, sufficient capital was raised by renewable energy crowdfunding specialists Abundance Investment and the project is now going ahead.

Two wells will be drilled into fractured granite. Drilling should begin in the first quarter of 2018 and take around five months to drill a well 2.5km down. This will be followed by a deeper well of 4.5km, creating a circuit for water to be pumped down the shorter well and return up the deeper well. The very hot pressurised water will be converted into electricity using a steam turbine. The water for charging the reservoir will come from flooded mines, not from the local water supply. If all goes as planned, the Redruth operation could be operational in 2020. Ultimately, geothermal could provide as much as 1,000 megawatts of capacity in Cornwall.

Unfortunately the complicated structure of the rocks in Cornwall make this a risky project and as this is new technology to investors finding funding has been extremely difficult.

Another geothermal project that Geothermal Engineering hopes to complete is to provide geothermally heated water for the open air Jubilee Pool in Penzance, Cornwall.

The Eden Project in Cornwall was has also put forward a proposal for a geothermal engergy plant to provide all it’s power requirements and enough power for 40,000 local homes, but it is struggling to find funding.

USA 100% renewable by 2050!

Royal Society of Chemistry logo
Royal Society of Chemistry logo

A team of Stanford University researchers have generated a plan for converting existing US energy infrastructure to run entirely on renewable energy by 2050. The study illustrates how existing renewable technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal could realistically replace fossil fuels.

The complex study examined the current and future energy needs of every state for four main categories – residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. It then examined how all these energy needs could be met purely by using electricity and what renewables infrastructure would be needed to meet this.

Not only does converting to electricity allow full use of renewables but due to greater efficiency could produce an energy saving of 39% by 2050.

Some states are already well down the road of converting to renewables. Washington State produces 70 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric, and both Iowa and South Dakota use wind power for around 30 percent of their electricity needs.

The cost of conversion to all renewables would be substantial, but once established the electricity generated is almost free, returning invested capital over time. Other benefits would be less air and ground pollution, energy cost stability, energy independence and substantial new employment and business opportunities to replace those lost in the fossil fuel industries.

All that is needed now is the political will to execute the plan. A republican win in this year’s presidential election would see the plan thrown to the back of a very dark cupboard!

100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States

Failing UK Renewables

The UK still ranks close to the bottom of the European Union in its use of renewables. In 2014, it used fossil fuels to produce more than 60 percent of its electricity, half again as much as the E.U. average. The Conservative government plans an 87 percent reduction in subsidies for solar power despite promising after the May election to “unleash a new solar revolution”. Washington Post

Solar Road Excites!

A 70 metre test track in Amsterdam embedded with solar panels has generated more than 3000kwh, enough to power a house for a whole year. The result is much better than expected.

The road is made up of rows of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased within concrete and with a translucent layer of tempered glass overlaid. The top layer is dirt-repellent to guarantee maximum exposure to sunlight by keeping the surface clean.

The solar panels are connected to smart meters, which optimise their output and feed the electricity either to street lighting or to the grid.

So far, approximately 150,000 cyclists have ridden over the road and, if trials go well, the companies working on the project are thinking of developing solar panels that could withstand large buses and vehicles.

There is a similar initiative in the  US, the Solar Roadways project.