Eden’s quest for ‘hot rocks’ gets underway
The Eden Project site.
21st March 2021
By Natasha Swift
It’s full steam ahead as Eden gets ready to start drilling for ‘hot rocks’ as part of its pioneering geothermal project.
A 450-tonne, 55m-high drilling rig is due to arrive at the Eden Project site next week and will bore almost three miles down into the Earth’s granite crust in search of ‘hot rocks’ which will be used to heat the attraction’s world-famous biomes.
The rig will come on 104 lorries starting from Monday.
Eden Project co-founder Sir Tim Smit said: “Forget the official po-faced language about sustainability and our energy future… this is every romantic’s dream. Jules Verne would be smiling, as would Brunel, as will every Briton worried that we had lost our island mojo.
“It is a privilege for Eden to be involved in a team embracing the future with the skills of the engineer and the power of the imagination, laying down a marker for a future that is ours to make.”
The first phase of drilling is expected to take five months and when complete will allow water to be injected down the borehole to be superheated by the hot rocks beneath.
The hot water will then be pumped back to the top up a pipe suspended in the same borehole, generating heat initially to warm Eden’s Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes, offices, kitchens and greenhouses.
Following the completion of this first phase, a second well will be drilled close to the first to a similar depth of around 4.5 kilometres, which will be used to heat the local area.
This will mean that the project will generate enough renewable energy for Eden to become carbon negative during 2023. This past year has been a period of intense activity in preparing the site close to Eden’s main visitor gate.
The diggers rolled in autumn last year and despite some of the wettest weather seen in Cornwall in recent years, the drilling apron, guide pipe, service roads, and water storage lagoon are ready to take delivery of the drilling rig.
A special viewing area has been erected so visitors can observe the ongoing project safely from a nearby path.
The project is being delivered by Eden Geothermal Limited (EGL), a three-way partnership between Eden Project Limited, EGS Energy Limited and BESTEC (UK) Limited.
EGL chairman Richard Day said: “This a momentous day for EGL and all our stakeholders. We have received significant funding from central and the local Cornwall government as well as from our commercial investors to help us reach this stage. We are also working closely with the local business community to provide clean, renewable baseload heat and power 24/7, from a small discrete footprint on the land. We are keen to be a part of the clean energy revolution under the government’s UK National Infrastructure Strategy.”
To drill the first well, EGL secured £17m funding from a combination of European Regional Development Fund, Cornwall Council and commercial funding from GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited.
Gus Grand, executive director at EGL said: ‘’We are excited to be taking an important step toward making a contribution to the UK’s net-zero goal in this year of G7 and COP 26. We believe geothermal is well placed to take advantage of the UK’s expertise as energy companies pivot away from fossil fuels and toward a greener, better, future.’’