We like to think there are many amazing places in the county that could carry this title. We have, after all, a champagne hot spot (Wilmslow), a racing hot spot (Chester), and a Bentley hotspot (Crewe) to name but a few. We, however, are talking geothermal hotspot and yes we mean in Cheshire.
Let’s talk energy
It’s a subject Greenovation is keen on and renewable energy sources in particular hold our interest. This week we are talking Geothermal Energy – a renewable energy source stored as heat beneath the earth’s surface. Think volcanic, molten magma chambers such as those found in Iceland and the connection to the Cheshire Basin may not be obvious, but stay with us on this… Iceland is a pioneer in using geothermal energy with 9 out of 10 households heated using this source and a total of 84% of their primary energy use coming from indigenous renewable sources, 66% of which is geothermal. Not bad for a country very much a poor nation during the 20th century that can now claim a high standard of living and a place on the world stage in terms of geothermal district heating.
And the process is?
In very simple terms, the heat deep beneath the earth’s crust needs to be warm enough to turn water into steam which can then be used to power turbines to create electricity. Over the last 3 billion years the earth has been cooling but very slowly with the temperature of the mantle decreasing by a mere 300-350oC. The temperature at the base is still around 4000oC. Up to 85% of the heat comes from the decay of radioactive isotopes concentrated in the crust and mantle of the earth and this heat is the basis of Geothermal Energy.
The Cheshire Basin
Research has now shown that although the UK has no volcanic hydro geothermal, we do have permeable porous rock which is mainly found in the Mesozoic basins including the Cheshire Basin and in particular the South East bounding fault which is basically Crewe. The potential at Leighton was identified through extensive research undertaken by consultants and the Renewable Energy Association on behalf of the Council. It offered the possibility of creating a self-sufficient energy supply and the all-important reduction in Co2 emissions.
So what happens next?
As we understand it, Cheshire East Council has now secured the largest grant for geothermal exploration in the UK. There are 4 other Mesozoic basins but the Cheshire Hotspot has a £200,000 grant from the Department for Energy and Climate Change to be used on feasibility studies on the exploration of deep geothermal in the Leighton area of Crewe. If successful this presents a great opportunity to use the technology for heating homes and to create electricity.
We like it… quite a lot!