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  • Writer's pictureGeoScience Limited

8th UK Geothermal Symposium

On the 17th November GeoScience staff joined many members of the UK geothermal community as they gathered in London for the 8th UK Geothermal Symposium, held once again at the Geological Society in Burlington House. This was the first time in two years that an in-person conference had been possible and it was well attended. About 50 people were in the room and a further 65 people attended online.

A wide variety of interests were represented; not only from geothermal developers and researchers, but also from academia and the oil & gas industry, perhaps a reflection of the increased interest in geothermal technology from the hydrocarbons sector. The programme included project updates and presentations on new concepts, case histories and research.

The opening talks were from Geothermal Engineering Ltd and Eden Geothermal Ltd presenting the latest progress on their respective power projects in Cornwall. Both teams have drilled wells to around 5km and are planning to construct surface facilities for power and heat next year.

Several presentations covered upscaling and de-risking geothermal exploration and development, with speakers covering geological uncertainty, resource evaluation, drilling and finance.

The research session included presentations on mine water, decarbonising the petroleum industry and studies in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

There were updates on specific mine water projects in Glasgow and Hebburn, both of which are pioneering research and development in abandoned coal mines, and a presentation from Eavor on their purely conductive approach to energy extraction.

The meeting closed with panel discussion on policy and regulation, which generated some good debate on what support is required from local and national government and stakeholders and how the industry could do more to help itself increase the take up of geothermal technology for heating.

Trelawny’s Army was in evidence at both the symposium and the Women in Geothermal (WING) social event held the evening before, with representatives from GeoScience, Eden Geothermal, EGS Energy, Geothermal Engineering, Camborne School of Mines and Cornish Lithium. The cluster of georesources companies in the county continues to grow in strength and cohesiveness. The WING event was great fun and allowed us to meet face to face with other UK members for the first time in two years, and also to meet some new members.

Attendees from Cornwall representing Eden Geothermal, GeoScience, Camborne School of Mines and Cornish Lithium.

A highlight for the GeoScience team was the presentation to Lucy Cotton of the Early Career Energy Geoscientist Medal, awarded by The Energy Group. The award recognised Lucy’s contribution to geothermal energy in the UK and commended both her technical and outreach work. Lucy continues to push forward the industry whilst inspiring the next generation of geoscientists. She is also the UK ambassador for WING. This is the first time that the medal has been awarded to someone in the geothermal industry and we are all extremely proud of her.

Part of the geothermal team from GeoScience Ltd attending the Geothermal Symposium, Lucy Cotton centre with her certificate for the Early Career Energy Geoscientist Medal.

What does the future hold for the geothermal industry in the UK?

Geothermal is under-performing and under-utilised in the UK. It should be one of the best options available for decarbonised heating but continues to struggle to gain traction. The industry as a whole needs to consider how it can speak with a single, more powerful, voice so that it can successfully lobby government to provide the incentives and support that is needed to build momentum and encourage private investment.

There are significant challenges to overcome to allow geothermal to become a larger part for the UK’s energy mix but it was encouraging to see such a diverse set of people attending the symposium this year. Perhaps with more awareness, inclusion and policy changes we will see more geothermal projects coming online in the coming years.

We would like to give a big thanks to The Energy Group for organising the event, The Royal Geological Society of London for hosting the event and Guy MacPherson-Grant, Richard Day, Helen Robinson, David Townsend and David McNamara for convening.

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