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Geothermal electricity to be produced and sold in UK for first time after landmark PPA agreed

lithium geothermal waters
Energy from hot rocks heating water into steam

Geothermal baseload electricity is to be sold in the UK for the first time after a landmark deal with a renewable energy supplier was rubber-stamped.

Ecotricity has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy green electricity and zero carbon heat from Geothermal Engineering Limited’s (GEL) United Downs site in Cornwall.

Between 3 megawatts (MW) and 5MW of renewable energy will be distributed to the Stroud-headquartered firm’s customers via the national grid.

The contract follows the latest round of successful testing at the power plant and will mark the first time geothermal electricity has been produced and sold in the UK.

Ecotricity, which was founded in 1996, is the brainchild of Dale Vince, who is also the owner of English League Two side Forest Green Rovers.

Last year, the renowned businessman hit the headlines after he developed a process for creating diamonds using carbon extracted from the air.

Mr Vince said: “Geothermal is a really exciting form of energy that is, as yet untapped in the UK.  We’re pleased to be part of this project and to add the power to our customer’s energy mix. It has a big role to play in our plans to decarbonise the country.”

Meanwhile, the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) has submitted plans for the UK’s first geothermally heated biome, which will be used to mature and then distil sustainable rum.

The firm has set out plans to bring Bonsucro rum to the United Downs site, where it will be laid down in oak casks and stored to enhance the drink’s quality and flavour.

It’s expected that, from the summer of 2022, a total of 640,000 litres of rum will be tropically matured over a period of five to ten years.

If successful, it’s hoped the process could draw further interest, leading to the creation of a £30 million Cornish geothermal rum distillery, creating up to 100 jobs.

GEL is also looking to raise around £200 million as part of plans to secure permission for for future sites over the next two years.

Each plant will aim to produce a minimum of 5MW of renewable baseload electricity and up to 20 MW of renewable heat which will be available 24/7.

On top of the expansion GEL is exploring the possibility of lithium and mineral extraction from the deep geothermal water.

Dr Ryan Law, founder and managing director of GEL, commented: “We have been working for many years towards this point and are absolutely thrilled to see the different aspects of this pioneering geothermal power plant coming together.

“The testing we have completed recently on the wells, including the deepest well ever drilled on shore in the UK (over 3 miles deep), shows the significant potential of geothermal energy to supply heat and power, not only at our site but right the way across Cornwall.

“This comes on the back of the recent discovery of high lithium content in our geothermal water.  We are very excited for the industry, investment and jobs this renewable resource could bring to the region.”

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