The Eden Project and EGS Energy Limited announced that the £16.8m in funding will enable them to start drilling on Eden’s site next summer.
The £16.8 million will pay for the first phase of the project - drilling one well, a research programme and a heat main, to prove the extent of the resource 4.5km down in the granite that lies beneath the Eden site. This first well will initially supply a district heating system for Eden’s Biomes, offices and greenhouses. It will pave the way for the second phase - another 4.5km well and an electricity plant. Completing the second phase would enable Eden to generate sufficient renewable energy to become carbon positive by 2023 as well as aiming to be able to provide heat and power for the local area.
The milestone follows a 10-year campaign to bring the technology to Cornwall. Eden co-founder Sir Tim Smit said: “Since we began, Eden has had a dream that the world should be powered by renewable energy. The sun can provide massive solar power and the wind has been harnessed by humankind for thousands of years but because both are intermittent and battery technology cannot yet store all we need there is a gap.
“We believe the answer lies beneath our feet in the heat underground that can be accessed by drilling technology that pumps water towards the centre of the earth and brings it back up superheated to provide us with heat and electricity.
“The missing piece of the jigsaw in a 24/7 clean renewable energy future is this baseload. Now we have the green light and the funding to start drilling we are determined to make this technology work. And we want to work with others all over the world - sharing knowledge and encouraging the change as fast as is humanly possible.”
The £16.8 million sum has been secured from a mixture of public and private sources. Cornwall’s final round of EU funding, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has contributed £9.9m. Cornwall Council has put in £1.4m. Institutional investors have contributed the remaining £5.5m.
To deliver the plan, a new company, Eden Geothermal Limited (EGL) has been formed. The EGL shareholders are Eden Project educational charity and visitor attraction, geothermal development and consultancy group EGS Energy and Bestec (UK), which is affiliated with specialist geothermal developer and drilling advisor Bestec GmbH.
Guy Macpherson-Grant, managing director of EGS Energy, said: “It is exciting that this geothermal development is under way. The geology in the county is particularly well-suited for cost-efficient heat and power generation, and St Austell benefits from particularly high heat flows.”