Drilling will start in Cornwall in 2011 to access rocks at a temperature of 200°C

Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for the UK’s first commercial deep geothermal power plant.

The plant, which will provide both renewable heat for the local area and renewable electricity to the National Grid, will be built near Redruth and should be operational by 2013.

Developed by Geothermal Engineering it is being built on a brownfield site within an existing industrial estate. Work will begin in early 2011 to drill 4.5 kilometres into the ground to access rocks at temperatures of around 200°C. This will be the deepest on-shore well in the UK.

The plant will provide up to 55 MW of renewable heat energy for the local community – enough to heat 20 schools for a year - and 10 MW of electricity - enough power for 20,000 homes.

Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering and chair of the Renewable Energy Association’s Deep Geothermal group, said: “With the development of our plant we want to make deep geothermal energy a significant contributor to the UK’s energy portfolio.

“Not only can we contribute renewable, continuous power to the grid, we also want to change the way the UK meets its heat demands by offering energy-efficient, decentralised heat.”The Department of Energy and Climate Change has estimated that deep geothermal technology could supply between one and five giga watts of baseload, renewable electricity by 2030.