Britain’s first city heat network powered by hot rocks welcomed SSE into its kiln of Kilowatts today.
IGas told investors it has signed a 12 month exclusivity deal with the supplier, asking it to deliver its project to heat a district of Stoke-on-Trent with energy drawn from over a kilometre below the city
The project focuses on two shafts to be sunk below Stoke’s Etruria district. SSE will deliver the project, aided by GT Energy, the specialists whom IGas bought last year, plus Stoke City Council.
Central to the duo’s exclusivity deal is implementing heat offtake from the geothermal pump head which GT Energy will build.
In May the city’s planners approved the explorer’s application to sink two boreholes at least 1,300 metres vertically below the city’s Etruria Valley. Flows of clean heat from rocks up to 4,000 metres – 2.5 miles – diagonally under Staffordshire is anticipated to begin in 2022.
IGas’ acquisition last year of GT Energy included the Etruria project. Covid-19 has pushed back construction of the heat net, originally scheduled to have begun in March.
Fire below the five towns
A delighted Giles Newton, business development chief at SSE Energy Solutions, highlighted the firm’s expertise proven in 19 other existing heat networks across Britain.
“We believe that geothermally sourced energy will play a vital role in decarbonising heat, as well as having the potential to tackle ‘hard to decarbonise’ process heat”.
IGas CEO Stephen Bowler hailed the pair’s co-operation in ”this flagship renewable project for Stoke-on-Trent”. “We are also working closely with other energy providers on a number of district heat networks in other cities”, he noted.
Bowler observed: “Deep geothermal has the potential to decarbonise heat on a mass scale. It will also create 1,000s of new jobs and generate tens of millions of pounds in new investment.”
Nationally, reports published in May from the British Geological Survey and consultants Arup highlighted deep geothermal’s potential to advance the decarbonising agenda by mid-century. Real benefits will flow much sooner.
Recent press speculation has focused on a possible break up of SSE. This morning the group told the London Stock Exchange “There has been no decision to break up the SSE Group”.
Half year results set for release in November would be accompanied by “details of significantly increased capital investment for the period to 2026, sources of funding and the company’s vision for further growth into the 2030s”.
SSE’s share price by 14:30 today stood at £16.425, up 0.5%, valuing the group at around £17 billon.