Geothermal in United Kingdom

There is no recorded high-temperature resource in the UK and although the country possesses a low- and medium-enthalpy resource it is, unlike some of its European neighbours, very under-utilised. Historically there has been no direct Government support for geothermal energy and the only application of low-enthalpy geothermal energy is the scheme, launched in 1986 in the city of Southampton. The scheme now supplies more than 40 GWh/yr of heat, 26 GWh of electricity from the combined heat and power plant and over 7 GWh of chilled water for air conditioning.

The Government has announced that it will provide GBP 6 million for exploration of the potential for deep geothermal power in the UK. Past research has shown the southwest region of England to be an area particularly rich in this resource.

The area, which was formerly mined for lead and fluorspar, is known to possess a source of geothermally-heated water (46oC at a depth of 1 000 m). The Weardale Task Force’s  Master Plan for the eco-friendly village envisages that the heat will be utilised for a public hot-springs The famous hot springs at Bath have long been a tourist attraction among the Roman architecture of the ancient city. Now the baths, together with four adjacent buildings, have  undergone a major refurbishment, and have been reopened in 2008 and are now fully operational.

The ongoing increase in geothermal heat pumps is estimated to be in the range of 3,000 to 5,000 installations per year. A few of these installations are large scale open loop systems (~500 kW to 2 MWt), the majority are closed loop systems in the range of 3.5 kW heating only, with approximately 750 units at commercial/institutional sites and 4,500 units at residential sites with full load operating hours per years of 1,500 and 1,800 respectively. The main driver for the geothermal heat pumps activity in UK has been the understanding that if connected to the UK grid they can offer significant reductions in overall carbon emissions compared to traditional methods of heat delivery.