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Ecotricity signs PPA to become first UK supplier of geothermal electricity

The United Downs site in Cornwall. Image: Geothermal Engineering.

The United Downs site in Cornwall. Image: Geothermal Engineering.

Ecotricity has hailed a UK first, signing an agreement for geothermal power with Geothermal Engineering.

The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) will see the green energy supplier distribute 3MW of baseload electricity to customers through the national grid 24/7 from the country’s first deep geothermal power plant.

Geothermal Engineering’s United Downs Project in Cornwall is expected to be operational in early 2022, having been more than a decade in the making.

Dr Ryan Law, founder and managing director of Geothermal Engineering, said that he was “thrilled to see this pioneering geothermal power plant coming together".

“Our work shows the significant potential of geothermal energy to supply both heat and energy across Cornwall. We are very excited for the industry, investment and jobs this renewable resource could bring to the region.”

Geothermal could eventually produce 10% of the UK’s energy needs, and Geothermal Engineering is already looking to further expand its operations. It is hoping to secure planning for sites with a minimum capacity of 5MW of electricity and up to 20MW of renewable heat over the next two years.

Together with its partners – Thrive Renewables plc and the European Regional Development Fund – it is looking to raise £200 million for this continued expansion. Additionally, the geothermal developer is looking into the possibility of extracting lithium and other minerals from the deep geothermal waters.

The PPA will see the supplier utilise energy from the United Downs site for ten years, allowing Ecotricity to benefit from this “really exciting form of energy that is currently untapped in the UK,” according to Ecotricity's founder Dale Vince.

“We’re pleased to be part of this project and to add the power to our customer’s energy mix. It has a big role to play in our plans to decarbonise the country.”

As well as the agreement with Ecotricity, the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company has submitted plans for the UK’s first geothermally heated biome at the United Downs site. This would see it use energy from three miles below the surface to mature and then distil sustainable rum.

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