The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) has called on the UK government to reassess its approach to geothermal energy in order to fully exploit its potential benefits. A new policy statement advises that geothermal is an energy source that could one day heat and power large areas of the UK thereby providing reliable, baseload, low-carbon energy while also contributing to the UK’s climate change mitigation targets.
Geothermal energy is stored as heat within rock strata or in underground aquifers. Depending on how high the temperatures are it can be used as a direct heating source and in some cases also as a means of generating electricity. The IME policy statement identifies several areas in the UK which could have the natural resources available to benefit the country, including Cheshire, East Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Wessex, Cornwall, East Grampians and Northern Ireland.
“We know that both national and international geothermal energy sources could benefit the UK, but currently the exploration risks and electricity market regime mean that they are not attractive enough for commercial investigation” said Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “Despite a clear potential for geothermal in the UK, both in heat and power, the support regime here is uncompetitive compared with other European countries. The UK Government provides just half the level of support for geothermal energy seen in Germany, where an industry that employed 6,000 people and attracted €4 billion in investment was developed.”