Geothermal heat for Britain’s cities warmed up as a prospect this morning, with developer iGas’ announcement that it had received planning permission for a 14MW, twin-shaft venture serving a neighbourhood north of Stoke’s city centre.
On Friday the city’s planners passed the gas explorer’s application to sink two boreholes at least 1,300 metres vertically below the city’s Etruria Valley. Flows of clean heat from hot rocks up to 4,000 metres – 2.5 miles – diagonally under Staffordshire is anticipated to begin next year.
iGas bought the Etruria project last year when it acquired GT Energy. Its shaft will provide heat for a network to be owned by the city’s council, and operated by Engie. Covid-19 has pushed back construction of the heat net, scheduled in previous planning applications to have begun in March.
Financing the Etruria project remains under discussion with central government, iGas indicated. Last year Beis pre-accredited the Etruria shafts as RHI-eligible.
Pottering into deep heat
As more conurbations plan zero-carbon networks needing heat sources, geothermal is shaking off any old associations as a rural-only energy solution. iGas has previously indicated its discussions with authorities in nearby Crewe, plus Southampton and Newcastle. Disused mineshafts are being mooted.
The Committee on Climate Change considers heat, and particularly heating homes, as the trickiest of energy uses to decarbonise. BEIS has announced £30 million in grants underpinning three low carbon pilot heat grids .
Four years ago under CfDs, Whitehall set £140 per MWh as geothermal’s support rate for projects delivered this year or until 2023.
iGas today cites the CCC’s estimate that twelve UK geothermal schemes delivered each year to 2050 could see up to 15,000GWh annually of heat being sourced from deep rocks.
iGas’s statement today to investors said that Friday’s planning approval opened up prospects for providing green heat ‘for decades to come’.
The developers today cite a recent Arup study. It claims that, with immediate support from Whitehall, as many as 360 ‘hot rock’ projects could be operating by 2050. That total includes an estimated 12 projects pumping clean heat as early as 2025. Up to 1,300 jobs would be created, as the UK economy would benefits from £100 million in inward investment.
Technical details of iGas’ approved plans are on Stoke’s planning portal here. Investors liked Stoke planners’ approval, marked iGas’ share price up 6.5% this morning. By 10:15 hrs it stood at 18.0 pence.