Enough heat for a whole rainforest

The project | Project programme

The project

The Project will drill and test the first 4,500-metre-deep well of a geothermal energy demonstration system at the Eden Project, followed by one year of heat production to demonstrate greenhouse gas (GHG) savings. It will build on knowledge of the deep geothermal resource in Cornwall by providing greater understanding of the geology at depth, enabling resources in the region to become characterised as reserves. 

The Project will include a one-year period of heat production from the single deep well, using a ‘co-axial’ circulation system.  The hot water produced will be used to provide direct heat to existing facilities at Eden and to new greenhouses due to be constructed on site within the next two years. The use of this heat will demonstrate the benefits of greenhouse gas (GHG) savings achievable from this specific project, while also indicating the long-term level of GHG savings that could be achieved from a two-well system.

Proposed location on Eden Project site

It is hoped that this will provide the pivotal first step for creating a new renewable and industry sector for the county and for the UK, as the greater understanding of the conditions deep in the granite will enable the subsequent development of another 4,500-metre well and a combined heat and power plant.

Eden Geothermal phase one: research project

Eden Geothermal phase one

Eden Geothermal phase two: electricity generation

Eden Geothermal phase two

Project programme

The main stages of the project over 40 months will be:

  1. Preparation and finalisation of design;
  2. Site works;
  3. Drilling, completion and testing of the first deep well;
  4. Deployment of the co-axial system along with the installation of a heat main to Eden;
  5. Heat production and GHG savings from the first well for 12 months.

Preparation

The finalisation of the site and well design, recruitment and the procurement of the main services required for the Project. 

Site works

The enabling works required to prepare the site for drilling will be undertaken by a specialist contractor. This work will include ground levelling; erection of a perimeter fence; site access; construction of roadways, drill pad, wellhead cellars, lagoons; site drainage and flood alleviation; erection of site buildings; installation of seismic monitoring network,  installation of services and conductor pipe.

Drilling

Starting in Summer 2020, the deep well will be drilled to a vertical depth of approximately 4,500 metres using conventional rotary drilling with muds. The upper three sections will be lined with steel casing, but the bottom section will be left as an open hole.

Well testing

The well testing programme will provide essential information on the hydrogeological characteristics of the target rock zone. Designed by the team in conjunction with University of Exeter, it will respond to the conditions encountered during drilling, with the aim of maximising the level of understanding of the petrography, hydrogeology and geomechanical conditions of the rock at 4,500m. The principal technical aims will be to: 

  • characterise the permeability/impedance of the target zone; 
  • evaluate the spatial extent of fracture distribution and orientation in the target zone; 
  • characterise the flowing zones and evaluate the ‘far-field flow contribution’; 
  • use acquired data to generate models to understand the regional geothermal resource. 

Reporting

The information obtained from the drilling and testing of the deep well will form the main basis of the understanding the characteristics of the target zone and the viability of the proposed development of the full-scale geothermal CHP plant at Eden.

Production

The final stage of the project will be to install a heat main from the geothermal site to the Eden Energy Centre and to provide geothermal heat from the well for the facilities at Eden. This will necessitate sealing off the well within the base of the production casing at a depth of ~3,500m and deploying open-ended tubing inside the well.  

Water will be injected down the outer ring and will warm as it gains heat from the surrounding rock on its descent and will return to surface via the centre tubing as hot water. The hot water will be circulated along the heat main to the Eden Energy Centre and then returned to the well and re-injected.  The final Project report will provide proof of GHG savings during this period.

Once installed, the heat production system will be operated for one year, supplying heat to Eden and demonstrating GHG savings. However, this period is likely to be extended beyond the duration of the Project during the drilling of the second deep well and the ensuing development of the system until the CHP plant is brought on-line.  The CHP plant will continue to supply heat to Eden using the heat main, and will also produce power.

Timescales

ItemActivityMonthDate
milestoneProject starts01/04/2019
1Pre-preparation, recruitment, procurement for main contractors51–5
2Preparations – finalise design, procurement 76–12
3Site enabling works413–16
4Drill and complete the first well517–21
milestoneCompletion of drilling31/12/2020
5Well testing222–23
milestoneEvaluation of target hydrogeology28/02/2020
6Reporting — evaluation, reporting and dissemination224–25
7Deploy single-well heat system and heat main226–27
8Run single well heat output1228–39
9Final reporting and dissemination140
milestoneEnd of project activity31/07/2022

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