£1.8M funding for granite geothermal research

Borehole drilling

As part of a major new research programme on environmental issues, the BGS is leading the £1.8M GWatt research project - Geothermal power generated from UK granites.

Decarbonising power generation is a challenge for the UK, requiring an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Geothermally-generated electricity is a carbon-free, renewable source that is available all the time, unlike wind and solar. Exploitation of the UK underground thermal resource has been held back by a lack of knowledge of the properties of fractured hot rocks and uncertainty regards the economic viability.

To help tackle these barriers and encourage geothermal development in the UK, the BGS is leading a new, NERC-funded project, ‘Geothermal Power Generated from UK Granites’ (GWatt). This research will seek to increase knowledge of fracture controlled flow in granites, quantify the sustainability of the heat resource, produce robust geological assessments to reduce financial uncertainty and apply the results to new geothermal exploration models for granites.

A particular strength of GWatt is the link with the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power (UDDGP) project, an £18M, 2 borehole Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) that is being developed within the Carnmenellis granite in Cornwall, which will provide unique sets of data. GWatt will carry out innovative analyses and interpretation, combining site-specific observations with regional studies and state-of-the-art uncertainty quantification, to address the challenges associated with EGS development within SW England.

The GWatt project consortium comprises the British Geological Survey, Camborne School of Mines (University of Exeter), Heriot Watt University, Geothermal Engineering Ltd, Geoscience Ltd, Computer Modelling Group Ltd, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall County Council.

Full list of the NERC funded projects in the programme: £24 million for new research into major environmental topics.

Read the recent blog by the GWatt Principal Investigator, Chris Rochelle: Feeling the heat: exploring the potential for geothermal energy.


21 December 2018