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9th UK Geothermal Symposium

Last week the geothermal team from GeoScience once again made the trip to London for the 9th UK Geothermal Symposium, held at The Geological Society in Burlington House.

This year’s event saw the largest attendance ever, with 148 people from the UK geothermal community coming together to network and hear from the line-up of speakers and panellists. It was also the first time the symposium had taken place over two days, reflecting the increased interest in geothermal heat and power.

One of the networking breaks that were built into the symposium programme, photo courtesy of Helen Robinson.

GeoScience's involvement in the geothermal symposium

Our Geothermal Group Manager, Lucy Cotton, was a co-convener of the symposium, she presented the geology results from the Eden geothermal project and a gave a promotional talk about Women in Geothermal. Our MD, Peter Ledingham, was on the panel discussing the position of geothermal in the UK Energy Mix. Also in attendance from GeoScience were Suzie Doe (Communications & Outreach), Jos Thio (Graduate Geothermal Geologist), Jon Gutmanis (Geology Advisor), Chris Dalby (PhD Student from CSM) and James Batchelor (Chairman).

From L-R: Peter Ledingham, Suzie Doe, Lucy Cotton, Chris Dalby and Jon Gutmanis

We also joined the Women in Geothermal social drinks on the evening before the symposium started, this was a great chance to catch up with the community and it was very well attended.

Keynote speeches

The meeting opened with keynote speeches from Ann Robertson-Tait, the President of GeothermEx and Women in Geothermal (WING), and Kieran Mullen, the MP for Crewe and Nantwich. Ann gave an overview of geothermal worldwide, especially looking at electricity generation and the expanding heat market and offered her views of the emerging UK sector.

Having been tasked by the then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to understand the potential of geothermal in the UK, Kieran offered his support to help the industry overcome challenges in terms of policy, legislation and funding. It is very encouraging to have a geothermal champion close to government, but Kieran did point out that the next spending review is not until 2024, meaning that there will be no change in the current funding streams before then. If geothermal is to be written into new budgets there needs to be more lobbying and awareness-raising about its benefits and potential contribution to decarbonising heat and power.

Updates and presentations from the geothermal community on day one

Corinna Abesser (BGS), Gioia Falcone (University of Glasgow), Eren Gunuc (ARUP) and Madelaine Constance (EGEC) gave presentations on policy and legislation in the UK, and discussed how to overcome existing barriers in this area.

David Townsend (TownRock Energy), Richard Day and Robbie Bilsland (EGS Energy/Eden Geothermal), Jeremy Wrathall (Cornish Lithium) and Nick Lyth (Green Angel Syndicate) presented on the business case for geothermal which sparked some interesting conversations.

Karl Farrow (CeraPhi), Lucy Cotton and Niall McCormick (Causeway GT) gave some insights on results, research and developments within the geothermal sector, with particular focus on enabling a larger scale market for the industry by using technological advances and innovative solutions. We also heard from Tom Hambley who is working on a PhD with University of Cambridge looking at people-place relationships in geothermal project development teams' approaches to engagement.

Lucy Cotton presenting the geology from Eden Geothermal's first well, EG-1.

To end the first day, a facilitated panel discussion chaired by Roy Baria considered the position of geothermal in the UK energy mix. There was general agreement that geothermal can make a strong contribution to the decarbonisation of heat, given the right government support. There was also a great deal of consensus about what the key issues and solutions are, which is a very positive step for the sector. All we have to do now, is make it happen!

Technical subjects covered in day two of the symposium

Day two had a more technical theme and the first morning session was primarily focussed on the deep projects in Cornwall. Richard Haslam (BGS) presented the results of fracture analysis of the UDDGP project, Dr Robin Shail and Nick Harper (University of Exeter Camborne School of Mines) gave an update of current research being conducted at UDDGP, Eden and Deep Digital Cornwall, Hazel Farndale (GEL) gave a perspective on the future of deep geothermal in Cornwall and Mike Round (Cornish Lithium) spoke about lithium opportunities. There was also an update from Hester Claridge (TownRock Energy) on some of the projects in Scotland.

In the second morning session we heard from Ian Draper (Baker Hughes), Tony Pink (NOV) and Oliver Ward (Seequent) who updated us on some innovative solutions being tested regarding drilling technology, software and operations of geothermal projects worldwide.

The final session focussed on international projects and initiatives. We heard from Helen Robinson (IGA) about the Geothermal Sustainability Assessment Protocol being worked on in Iceland, Greg Rhodes (CGG) on global assessment tools being trialled and Chris Holdsworth (University of Edinburgh) who has been working with CarbFix to understand the relationship between their carbon capture technology and geothermal power.

GeoScience's founder commemorated with the Lifetime Achievement Award

The conference was a chance to hear about updates, new projects coming online and the advancement of technologies to help drive the growth of the industry, but it also had a very personal meaning to all of the GeoScience team this year following the passing our founder, owner and Chairman, Tony Batchelor.

Tony had been at the heart of the geothermal industry for over 40 years both in the UK and internationally and was regarded as the ‘grandfather of UK geothermal’ by many. This year, Tony was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry, his passion, and his dedication, which was accepted on his behalf by his son James.

The awards were all bespoke and a huge amount of thought had gone into their design by Chris Rochelle of the British Geological Survey.

Tony knew he was going to receive the award and he would have been delighted to discover that it contains cuttings from RH15; the deepest of the three Rosemanowes wells he was responsible for drilling in the 1980s. A great tribute to a great man.

All the award winners from the Symposium L - R: Joseph Ireland, Ryan Law, David Townsend and James Batchelor on behalf of Tony Batchelor.

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