Five areas in Sussex named as potential sites for new underground energy plants

A ground-breaking new report has named five areas in Sussex as potential locations for a network of underground plants that could heat homes through natural energy.
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Scientific analysis by Durham University has identified Wealden, Mid Sussex, Horsham, Chichester and Rother among 45 local authority areas across Britain that could host a plant.

Deep geothermal energy is a carbon neutral resource that uses the heat from naturally occurring underground water sources to generate a large amount of usable energy.

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While used historically via naturally occurring hot springs such as the Roman Baths, modern technology can allow it to be accessed artificially through drilling into aquifers to access warm water below.

A swimming pool in Pullach, Germany, heated by geothermal energyA swimming pool in Pullach, Germany, heated by geothermal energy
A swimming pool in Pullach, Germany, heated by geothermal energy

Deep geothermal energy is already being utilised internationally, generating two-thirds of the energy in Iceland, and contributing to heating homes and businesses in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Backbench MP Dr Kieran Mullan conducted a review of the potential of deep geothermal energy for the UK and his report highlights previous research that building a network of plants could contribute 35,000 jobs to the economy by 2050.

The opportunity for Sussex could provide energy and employment for years to come and Dr Mullan has written to council leaders and local MPs to arrange a meeting to discuss how they can take the opportunity forward.

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The underground energy source also has wide support from academic and environmental groups. Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall, which is building one of the first UK plants, previously stated: “Since we began, Eden has had a dream that the world should be powered by renewable energy.

"The sun can provide massive solar power and the wind has been harnessed by humankind for thousands of years, but because both are intermittent and battery technology cannot yet store all we need there is a gap.

"We believe the answer lies beneath our feet in the heat underground that can be accessed by drilling technology that pumps water towards the centre of the earth and brings it back up superheated to provide us with heat and electricity.”

Commenting on the report, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We have made rapid progress on switching to homegrown renewable electricity and have made energy security a key priority. Success is going to depend on pulling all the levers at our disposal.”