Deep geothermal energy could be exploited across the UK, with “hot spots” including Cornwall, East Yorkshire, Hampshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland, according to the study for the Renewable Energy Association (REA).
But the current subsidies on offer for geothermal energy are not enough to attract international investment that can develop the industry and create thousands of jobs, the report by engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz found.
Deep geothermal systems can generate electricity from water heated far underground to create steam that drives turbines. They could supply almost as much power as nine nuclear reactors, the report found.
The power source could also supply enough heat directly to warm all the UK’s homes and buildings, although the REA admits the infrastructure is not in place to deliver the heat to where it is needed. However it could be developed close to areas of large heat demand such as hospitals.
The REA believes geothermal has significant potential as a “baseload” electricity source, which can be exploited as a backup to the more variable wind power and adjusted to meet electricity demand, as well as providing heat.