|The Los Azufres geothermal area. Steam swirls from a natural vent (fumarole) |
in the valley bottom, and also from several geothermal wells amongst
the trees further up the valley sides.
Part One - Mexico
|The drilling rig under construction at |
United Downs in Cornwall.
Part Two - The UKAnd the UK is also rising to the challenge of renewable energy generation. On returning to the UK I travelled to Cornwall where a large drilling rig is being erected at United Downs. Once assembled, it will spend some 7 months drilling two deep boreholes into the Carnmenellis Granite, one of which could be up to 4.5km deep (thereby becoming the deepest onshore borehole in the UK). This £18M United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project aims to tap deep natural fractures filled with groundwater at 180-190°C and prove the feasibility of a fully working ‘engineered geothermal system’ (EGS) that can export electrical power to the national grid. This exciting project will utilise modern technologies to convert heat energy to electricity, and builds on expertise gained in the previous ‘Hot Dry Rock’ geothermal project which ran in Cornwall in the 1980s-1990s. If the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project succeeds, then it will open up the possibility of parts of the UK’s deep geosphere becoming a renewable energy resource for the future.
Since starting work on this blog, I found out that I have just won £1.8M from NERC for a Highlight Topic focussed on understanding the deep geothermal resources of Cornwall (project = GWatt). This study (which also involves Herriot Watt University, Camborne School of Mines, GeoScience, Geothermal Engineering Ltd, and the Cornwall and Isles Of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership) aims to reduce the uncertainty associated with geothermal exploration through a detailed appraisal of existing and newly gathered data. Key to this will be the incorporation of new data coming from the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project.
The European Union Horizon 2020 research programme for funding for the European half of GEMex under grant agreement 727550. Thanks go to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) for allowing the site visit and access to their facilities, and providing many explanations of the different parts of their powerplant.