We’re in Hot Water – Utilising Groundwater for a Sustainable Future
9 December 2021, Eden Project
As the global green revolution advances, scientists and industry professionals based in the heart of Cornwall have been focussed on making their own important contributions to this transformative movement. Their focus has manifested itself in the form of research investigations and innovative engineering practices that harness the potential lying in the water and rocks right beneath their feet.
Diverging from its historic mining past, Cornwall has been at the epicentre of a drive to produce deep geothermal energy and unconventional lithium compounds, utilising the rich geology and heat from the granites below.
In early December 2021, right in the heart of the historic Cornish clay country, Deep Digital Cornwall collaborated with Eden Geothermal to host an informative day of talks focussed on the emerging state-of-the-art techniques and technologies that are at the forefront of this revolution.
Welcomed by Frances Wall, Professor of Applied Mineralogy at the Camborne School of Mines and lead academic on the Deep Digital Cornwall project, the day started with a series of talks that explored the unique geology and hydrology of Cornwall. To start the day off, Dave Watkins from Geohydraulics demonstrated his extensive work creating a new hydrological map for Cornwall. Next to speak were two of the region’s leading exploration companies currently active in the search for geothermal heat and their associated lithium-bearing brines. Lucy Cotton from GeoScience gave an overview of the exploration for geothermal energy at two of Cornwall’s deepest geothermal drill holes: United Downs and Eden. After which Adam Matthews from Cornish Lithium presented a summary of their fascinating Leapfrog 3D modelling of historical data from the county which has been used to advance mineral exploration.
The second part of the day focussed on the advancements in engineering, software, and high-tech robotics required to assist the exploration for and monitoring of deep geothermal resources. Rob Cartwright from Ver Facil Ltd was invited to demonstrate the capabilities of the LoRaWAN environmental monitoring and sensing network, followed by Carlos Rivera Villarreyes who gave a high-level overview of the FEFLOW hydrogeological modelling software developed by DHI Group, and Steve Henley who gave a fascinating insight to the capabilities of the UNEXMIN submersible robot which is able to explore in flooded mineshafts.
The potential offered by the water present in abandoned mineshafts, to heat and power communities, continues to attract increasing amounts of attention in the United Kingdom. We were delighted to be joined by Gareth Farr from the Coal Authority who was able to demonstrate recent advancements in capturing heat from disused coal mines in the North of England which could be applied to Cornwall. Finally, Kevin Mallin from Geolorn led the group towards lunch with a light-hearted talk demonstrating the difficulties incurred when drilling deep exploratory boreholes for the geothermal industry.
After a morning of thought-provoking talks, we were led on a tour of the Eden Geothermal site by Tony Bennett that included the successful new geothermal well located on the edge of the Eden grounds. This deep geothermal energy resource will help the Eden Project to become a near-carbon zero business. It is also one of a number of deep geothermal energy projects that have been drilled or planned across Cornwall, which looks to take advantage of the Duchy’s favourable geological conditions.
Companies & Groups Involved: