Britain has been too slow to develop the potential of geothermal heat, drilled virtually carbon free from hundreds of metres below our feet, MPs say.

After hearing experts’ evidence, the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee has written to D-BEIS secretary of state Jacob Rees-Mogg, asking him to drill down deeper into reasons for the nation’s time lag.

An overlooked Cinderella of low-carbon energy, geothermal as a heat source features nowhere in existing government policy, says the committee, despite offering ‘considerable promise’.

Under its Conservative chair Sir Philip Dunne, the committee touched two years ago on the technology of pumping superheated water up pipes from Britain’s deep underground, when it evaluated heat pumps in the nation’s energy mix.

Now, they say, Britain’s range of geological formations could serve a multiplicity of heat use on the surface, from power generation to running district heating networks.  The committee estimates as many as 25,000 jobs in the sector could flourish by mid-century.

Yet it is omitted from both the government’s Net Zero Strategy and from the Johnson administration’s Energy Security Strategy

The committee tells D-BEIS it wants the ministry to produce proposals for a suitable licencing regime to nurture the technology.

Committee chair Sir Philip Dunne said members believed geothermal holds out the promise to save as much as 20% of UK carbon emissions.

“It is surprising that the government appears to have overlooked the potential of geothermal energy, “ said Sir Philip.

“This energy is beneath our feet and is ready to be explored to test its commercial viability.

“I expect Ministers will wish to reflect carefully on the evidence the Committee received and reconsider the potential role of geothermal energy in heating UK buildings and providing power while aiding the drive towards net zero emissions targets.”

Recent initiatives in exploiting geothermal include IGas drilling under Stoke-on-Trent’s Etruria suburb.  SSE joined the project, believed to be Britain’s first, in September last year.


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