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UK Energy Needs Could be Solved Underground


By Harriet Hadfield, Sky News reporter

Millions of homes could be heated by geothermal energy in the future, according to experts.

This week the Government is due to reveal how much money it is prepared to pay to help private companies develop the form of renewable energy.

A new geological survey suggests up to 20% of the country's power could be generated by tapping into hot spots underground.
These thermal energy hot spots have been identified around the country - in the South West, South and North of England, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.

The scientific survey, produced by engineers at Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), has given new hope that geothermal might be a sustainable form of energy.

But many think it is too expensive to be a long-term solution to our energy needs in the UK. Tim Jackson, a geothermal engineer for SKM, said: "They are more expensive but they're comparable with other options such as nuclear. "The other big advantage they have over other renewables is they can provide a baseload generation, (which means) you can get approximately three times more energy out of them."

Boreholes are drilled deep underground into aquifers where hot rocks can be found. Water is then pumped over the rocks, heated and sent back to the surface to drive electric generators, producing power. 

Sky News visited a borehole in Southampton that was drilled over 25 years ago and used for energy until a few years ago.

Now, engineers at the Southampton District Energy Plant want to re-open the well and think it could add up to 15% to their current energy output.

Paul White, an engineer at the Southampton plant, told Sky News: "During the summer months we should be able to use the geothermal well on its own, as opposed to using a conventional boiler plant. "We anticipate about two megawatts of heat because obviously in the summer the heat load requirement is considerably less."

Article taken from http://www.skynews.om

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