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Technical paper: Geothermal energy and its exploitation in South-West England

By A S Batchelor, Cambourne School of Mines

This paper was first published in GE’s March 1978 issue


There is renewed international interest in the exploitation of all forms of geothermal energy. One of the more challenging problems in the exploitation of these resources is that of extracting heat from hot, dry rock. This will open up geothermal prospects to many regions of the world because “hot rocks” exist everywhere if sufficiently deep holes are drilled. If the technical difficulties of drilling to depth in hard rock can be overcome and a suitable exploitation scheme can be established, then a true economic assessment can be made for any site.

In this article. the results of some very tentative experiments are discussed with their due relevance to the ‘state-of-theart’. However, it can be seen that considerably more extensive testing is required to be able to determine the economics of such a scheme with regard to the UK environment. The current implications are that it is not an economic alternative at the moment, but the development of the technology is vital to ensure it is available when required. 

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