The Manhay project will be GEL’s third site in Cornwall, in addition to the United Downs plant near Redruth and the Penhallow plant. The project is set to begin in late 2023 subject to all agreements and funding being in place and will take approximately thirty-six months to complete, from site preparation to producing electricity.
The Manhay site will be similar in construction to the United Downs project, featuring two deep wells. The production well will reach a depth of approximately 4,500 metres to bring hot geothermal fluid to the surface, while the reinjection well, which will be around 3,000 metres deep, will be used to return cooled fluid underground after it has been used to generate electricity.
Once fully operational, the proposed geothermal power project at Manhay is expected to produce 5 MW of electrical energy 24/7 and 20 MW of thermal energy, enough power and heat to supply more than 11,000 homes. Based on electricity generation alone, the project is expected to provide a lifetime carbon saving of more than 700,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to an equivalent gas baseline. Geothermal energy offers a significant carbon saving over the current energy mix as it can be used to produce electricity consistently regardless of weather conditions. Geothermal power plants also have one of the lowest surface footprints of any renewable energy technology, meaning they have a minimal impact on the landscape.
GEL is committed to ensuring its projects not only benefit the environment but also have a positive impact on the local communities. Similar to the other sites, GEL is planning on increasing net biodiversity by 70 percent by encouraging more wildlife to the area, planting species-rich hedgerow around the site and working with local people to support nearby environmental schemes. The local area in Manhay will also benefit from a minimum of £40,000 community fund to help fund local projects with sustainability and community cohesion at their core.
During the construction phase, more than £1.5 million will be spent at local businesses, including accommodation close to the site for visiting crew. GEL will also continue its education and careers programme for local schools that has been running successfully since 2018 and provides careers talks, activities and lessons in STEM subjects, seeking to boost awareness of climate change and renewable energy.
“By 2030, the world is estimated to require around 60 percent more energy” said Ryan Law, Managing Director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd. “As our energy requirements continue to expand, it is imperative that we have both the investment and policy support to rapidly develop the production of renewable energy from current levels in the UK. A key part of this will be enabling sustainable, renewable baseload power sources, so we are delighted to be adding this additional site to our deep geothermal portfolio. The three sites we have received the Planning for will be able to power over 35,000 homes. This is alongside providing heat energy for local homes and businesses and attracting important inward investment that will bring with it the potential for new jobs for the local Cornish communities”.
Matthew Clayton, Managing Director at Thrive Renewables, investors in the United Downs project, added that geothermal energy is readily available and can transform how we generate electricity and supply sustainable heat – allowing us to harness the energy from the Earth and use it as a source of clean, baseload power that can be accessed at any time of the day or night, all year round.
“It’s great to see approval of a third project, with each one contributing to the future UK energy mix by helping to stabilise and secure the power coming from other renewable sources such as onshore wind and solar” said Mr Clayton. “The UK has only scratched the surface of the challenge of transitioning to renewable heat supply. Tapping into the geothermal heat source is a positive stride forwards.”
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