UK government urged to deliver ‘world-leading’ geothermal sector to secure Green Recovery
14 May 2021
A new report has urged the UK government to provide targeted support for the deep geothermal sector to aid the ‘green recovery’. On May 13, the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) and ARUP published a report, ‘Deep Geothermal Energy: Economic Decarbonisation Opportunities for the United Kingdom’, which underlines the environmental and economic potential of deep geothermal.
Reykjanes geothermal power plant, Iceland – Image: Shutterstock
The report estimates that, should the Government establish a Geothermal Development Incentive, 12 deep geothermal projects could be operational by 2025, creating 1,300 jobs and generating more than £100 million of investment, predominately in towns and cities in the North of England, Midlands and South West. The scheme would provide a catalyst to the industry, with 360 sites being established by 2050. This would provide an additional £1.5 billion of investment, 10,000 direct jobs and 25,000 indirect jobs, and an annual carbon saving of 3 megatons, the report argues.
Deep geothermal energy is a space efficient, utility scale renewable heat resource that can be deployed in urban areas, specifically with the potential to heat thousands of large commercial and other properties for generations, REA said. Heat accounts for around 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and nearly a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions. According to the report, it is estimated that there is currently enough deep geothermal heat energy to supply all of the UK’s needs for at least 100 years.
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said: “As this report demonstrates, deep geothermal must be central to the Government’s energy policy for the next 30 years, but with real and tangible benefits in the immediate future. Deep geothermal has the potential to become a world leading industry here in the UK, provide a stable transition away from oil and gas, and help meet the Government’s net zero ambitions by decarbonising heat on a mass scale. It would also create 1,000s of new jobs and generate tens of millions of pounds in new investment.
“The REA believes that urgent work is required to aid the roll out of all heat technologies, however, with the right support from the Government, deep geothermal will play a major role in Britain’s heat generation for decades to come.”
In a press release, REA said there is a significant opportunity to create a world leading geothermal industry in the UK which could export internationally in terms of expertise, as with the North Sea. As the Government looks to deliver a ‘green recovery’ and meet their net zero ambitions, deep geothermal would act as a catalyst for new green jobs and investment.
Germany’s use of deep geothermal energy reduced the country’s emissions by more than 1.7 Mt CO2 equivalent in 2017, REA says. In addition, there is the creation of skilled jobs, the industry is estimated to have created more than 22,000 jobs and added €13.3 billion to the German economy since 2000.
The success of geothermal developments in countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands is closely linked to their governments’ commitment to supporting this technology through policies, regulations, incentives and initiatives, the report says. This success is specifically linked to the availability of a long-term, stable regulatory framework and the willingness of the state to share economic risks during the early stages of development.