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Lincolnshire homes could be heated by underground reserves of thermal energy

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 04, 2012

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Homes could be heated by large reserves of thermal energy that have been found under the ground in Lincolnshire.

Areas near the coastline and northern parts of the county have been identified as some of the UK's key hot spots for the resource.

The discovery means Lincolnshire could play an important role in the future of the nation's clean energy production. According to researchers, the make-up of the county's terrain and proximity of certain rock types to warm underground areas of the Earth make it an ideal geothermal energy source.

Subterranean water stores heated by sandstone buried up to 3km in the ground could be used to transfer energy back to the surface for domestic use.

Other parts of the country, like Cornwall, also have the potential to create electricity.

While it is well-known that reserves exist in Britain, the latest report has found those that are accessible. Consultancy firm Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), which collected the information, says it is in the hands of local authorities and the Government to allow developments with the resource to progress.

Tim Jackson, the author of the report, said there were benefits of geothermal energy over other renewables.

"Geothermal is low-carbon and has a very low visual impact," he said. "It's also not an intermittent supply, unlike other renewables.

"These types of projects need starting by local authorities and lots of people in the community working together. They are most likely to be led by councils and local authorities.

"They have bigger carbon targets with the Government and I think it would be quite difficult for a drilling company to come down and say 'we want to drill a well here'."

The county's hot spots are between Skegness and Grimsby on the coast and around Scunthorpe and Hull in the Humber region.

Heat has been extracted successfully from the ground in Southampton for 25 years.

But Mr Jackson said other European nations were ahead of the UK in their use of geothermal energy.

"Geothermal has proven very popular in a lot of the rest of the world and I think it's got a big benefit in future proofing our energy supply," he said.

SKM estimates that it could be possible for geothermal energy to provide the UK with a cumulative benefit of 5,000 giga watt hours (GWh) of electricity and 32,000 GWh of heat by 2030.

Mr Jackson says this success could be achieved with the right support mechanisms in place.

"The UK already has world-leading drilling skills and these could be applied to support geothermal projects and develop new techniques to make engineered geothermal system power plants commercially attractive," he said.

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