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RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES Section 2 Capabilities Assessment
 Author  Lesley Wright
STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Paul Younger
University of Glasgow
 Last Updated  13 December 2012
 Status  Peer reviewed document
 Download Landscape  PDF 562 KB

Section :

Table 2.1: UK Capabilities

New geothermal concepts mean that this type of energy resource is no longer confined to volcanically active areas and many countries well away from plate margins, such as the UK, may host useful resources. This creates a much larger market for relevant skills and technologies.

The UK has little capacity in developing technologies for Geothermal Energy exploitation most of the equipment used is of Japanese, American and especially German manufacture. However, our experience in oil/gas exploration means that we may well have technologies and experience that can be effectively transferred from the North Sea to onshore prospects. In particular drilling technologies, seismic and structural investigations, basin and thermal modelling, and reservoir stimulation are central to both oilfield and geothermal field development.

It is likely that low-grade resources associated with abandoned coal mines and deep aquifers will be those most easily exploited in theUK, and it is a convenient consequence of this nation’s geology that the host basins were historically often the loci for urbanisation. Unfortunately many of these have become economically deprived regions in need of regeneration, and access to clean energy resources may in some cases provide the necessary catalyst for development. Making it happen will require cross-disciplinary research involving geologists, engineers and others, and engagement with industry and planners.

National capacity to exploit geothermal energy on any significant scale is currently meagre and skills shortages may limit the rate of such exploitation. A report prepared in May 2012 by the Renewable Energy Association ( ) which showed that geothermal energy could meet up to a fifth of the UK’s energy needs, it receives a relatively low level of subsidy - less than that offered to wave and tidal power, and less than that offered in rival countries such as Germany and Switzerland. Despite this, geothermal energy was omitted from the UK Government’s “Banding Review for the Renewables Obligation” published in July 2012.

Ironically, during 2012, the UK government approached Iceland to discuss connecting the UK to Icelandic geothermally-generated electricity supplies via the proposed multi-million pound Europe-wide energy supergrid.

There are some signs the UK industry is interested in making use of the UK’s resource: a UK Deep Geothermal Symposium took place in October 2012, for companies in this fledgling area to exchange information about their current projects. This indicates that there is a perceived market resource in the UK. As an example,in May 2012, GT Energy revealed plans to build the UK’s biggest commercial deep-geothermal heat plant in Manchester.

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Table 2.1: UK Capabilities

 UK Capability  Area  Market potential
  • Drilling technology derived from the oil/gas industry
  • ssociated technical services and consultancy
  • Global: Medium Now
  • Development of better geological and geophysical survey methods for identifying potential deep geothermal resources
  • UK: High 1-2 years
  • Global: High 5+ years

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