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GT Energy, to deliver the UK’s largest geothermal heating project

Plans to tap into the heat that occurs naturally underground and establish the UK’s largest deep-geothermal heat plant are announced today by developer GT Energy.

The project will tap into one of the UK’s largest geothermal resources, located beneath Manchester called the Cheshire Basin. This natural energy reservoir equates to the heating consumption of approximately 7 million homes. 

The proposed development is also expected to generate “green economy” skills and jobs in the region and will support the development of a low carbon economic zone.  In addition, the Local Government Finance bill allows business rates generated from the renewable energy project to be retained within the local authority for investment in the community.

With plans to develop 500MW of capacity of the UK’s estimated 100,000MWth potential*, GT Energy has set itself a strategic goal of becoming the UK’s primary provider of renewable heat energy. The company already has a number of projects underway in the UK and Ireland, including planning permission for a geothermal electricity generation plant in a Dublin suburb.  GT Energy is due to announce a range of further investments in the coming months including another four projects.

In advance of submission of its planning application to Manchester City Council in September, GT Energy will be seeking the views of local residents and stakeholders as part of its consultation strategy which will inform the final design proposals for the site.

The heat plant will be based on two wells of approximately 3,000 metres depth at a half acre site in the Ardwick district of the city. 
GT Energy will develop the geothermal plant and a program will be developed for the design and build of the district heating network to supply this heat to the Oxford road corridor.

The district heating network will potentially connect homes, businesses and leading Manchester institutions in the Oxford Road Corridor. A similar project was developed in the UK in the 1980s in Southampton and is still in operation. This plant provides heat to its customers via 14km of district heating pipes.

This will be the largest commercial development of geothermal heating in the UK and follows closely on the introduction of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is the world’s first financial incentive scheme designed to encourage the development of renewable energy for heating.  At present, about half of the UK’s carbon emissions derive from the energy used to produce heat, far more than from generating electricity. Administered by the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the RHI scheme can draw on funds of £70m during 2012/13 to support the development of renewable heat projects.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “I was delighted to hear about the launch of this exciting scheme in Manchester, and GT Energy and E.ON’s plans for further projects to develop heat networks supplied with deep geothermal heat.  This is exactly the sort of innovative green project we want to see sprouting up across the country. This builds on the Coalition’s ambitious heat strategy published in March, and I wish the project every success.”

Padraig Hanly, CEO of GT Energy, said: “We are delighted to be working on this ground breaking project. At present, energy for heating is almost entirely fossil-fuel based, but as geothermal energy is abundant we believe that we can utilise this resource in an economical and efficient way for the benefit of the citizens of Manchester.  The RHI is a world leading initiative from the UK government and will boost the development of renewable energy, and GT Energy we will be at the forefront of this.”

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