Geothermal Energy[accordion] [spoiler title=”What is Geothermal Energy?”]Geothermal energy is produced by harnessing the natural heat produced by materials below the surface of the earth’s crust. Geothermal energy is independent of climatic conditions such as wind and solar. As such, it is a natural form of renewable energy available 24/7 which will directly benefit local customers by providing security of supply and helping to overcome price volatility.
Geothermal energy is produced close to where it is needed and directly distributed to commercial and residential businesses in the community via a heat network.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”How does Geothermal Energy work in practice?”]The earth’s core is estimated to be at a temperature of 6000 C. This energy moves through the earth’s layers warming rocks, water reservoirs and aquifers.
In Manchester, geothermal energy will be harnessed by drilling into a geological formation called the Cheshire Basin. The heated geothermal fluid will be pumped to the surface. The heat is transferred to heat exchangers in the underground heating plant, with the cooled geothermal fluid recycled back down a second bore hole. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Will there be any impact on local water supplies?”]The boreholes will be completed using steel casing which are permanently installed in the borehole at a starting diameter of 30 inches from the surface reducing progressively with each string installed to the production section of each borehole in the Carboniferous Limestones which will be finished at a diameter of 6 inches.
The casing and well construction process for both the production and re-injection boreholes will include cementing of individual casing sections back to the surface to seal off any surface water and shallow groundwater sources.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Is there any risk of earthquakes?”]Earthquakes have previously been associated with geothermal projects where the process used involved the pumping of water into hot rocks to “fracture” them to draw out their heat (this happened in 2009 in Basel, Switzerland). GT Energy will not undertake this activity and will adopt a different method which harnesses geothermal energy by drilling into the natural geothermal reservoir of the Cheshire Basin beneath Manchester, and pumping hot water to the surface. It does not involve any form of fracturing.
GT Energy is working closely with Professor Peter Styles of Keele University to get expert advice and will closely monitor for seismic activity. GT Energy is committed to safety and should any activity be detected, appropriate procedures are in place.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Is Geothermal Energy new?”]Energy has been harnessed in this way for centuries throughout the world, with the first modern geothermal district heating plant in operation since 1892.
Geothermal Energy is forecast to play a leading role in delivering low-carbon heat in cities across the UK, although this type of energy has been used for centuries throughout the world.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Is Geothermal Energy used elsewhere?”]In Europe there are 216 geothermal district heating plants already in operation. In Paris alone, 34 heating schemes provide renewable energy to homes in the French capital. Over €4 billion (Euro) has been invested in developing the geothermal sector in Germany with Munich, a city of similar size to Manchester, alone having approximately 9 geothermal district heating schemes.
Closer to home, Southampton has operated a geothermal district heating system since the early 80’s.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”What is fracking and will it be used?”]Fracking is a technique that is used to harvest shale gas and is unrelated to geothermal heat production. Fracking involves fluids consisting of water, sand and some chemicals being injected at high pressure into rocks containing the shale gas to create openings which allows the shale gas to be released.
Geothermal energy harnessed in Manchester will be gained by pumping warm water out of the natural reservoir and passing it through a heat exchanger. There is no requirement to “fracture” the rock.
Manchester and the Devonshire Street project site[accordion]
[spoiler title=”Why has GT Energy chosen Manchester?”]Manchester City is located on the edge of a geological formation, the Cheshire basin, which has been shown from our geological survey to be one of the most optimum areas for harnessing geothermal energy in the UK.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Why Devonshire Street?”]The Devonshire Street site was selected due to its proximity to Manchester City centre. It is also well serviced by primary roads which allow safe access and egress from the site. Devonshire Street and Stockport road both average 16-20,000 vehicles movements per day. These primary roads will ensure that the construction traffic will have an insignificant impact on traffic in the locality.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”How much is being invested in the project?”]GT Energy is investing £18million in its geothermal project to deliver affordable, renewable heat to local homes and businesses in Manchester.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”How much energy will be produced for Manchester residents and local businesses?”]GT Energy expects to produce enough low carbon heat to supply around 6,000 homes per annum.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”What are the environmental benefits of the project for Manchester?”]Geothermal Energy is a renewable form of energy with a proven record at delivering a secure, environmentally sustainable heating system.
The project has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 20,000 tonnes per annum – the equivalent of removing just under 8,000 cars off Manchester roads every year.
The development will help Manchester City Council (MCC) achieve its renewable energy targets and complement its ‘Heat Network Strategy’.
Impact on the local community[accordion] [spoiler title=”What benefits will the project bring to the local community?”]The key benefits of the project are that it will deliver long term price stability and security of supply to the community.
The geothermal project will help alleviate fuel poverty issues in the area and generate green skills and jobs as well as supporting the council’s Renewable Heat Strategy.
The development on vacant derelict ground will also help promote the Ardwick area of Manchester as a low-carbon economic zone owing to the unique nature of the proposed development in the North-West of England. [/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”How many jobs will the project create?”]The construction phase of the project will create 45 new jobs, including 30 throughout the drilling phase. The final operational development would be operated remotely; however, it would provide indirect employment in the form of maintenance and contractors, etc. during the life of the development.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Will there be a high level of disruption for the local community?”]Once we begin the construction phase of the project, drilling will take place 24 hours a day for a period of approximately 150 days.
Once the construction phase of the project has been completed and the plant is operational, there will be no noise and minimal disruption.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”What sort of noise disruption will be caused by the project?”]Noise and vibration levels have been assessed in accordance with national guidance. Existing vibration levels at the nearest property to the proposed location of the drilling rig are below a level which ‘might be just perceptible.
Where noise levels are expected to exceed threshold limits, GT Energy will consider mitigation measures in order to alleviate the overall noise impact.
Vibration levels from the construction will be short-term and localised. The Assessment concludes that vibration levels will be below levels which would cause disturbance and/or building damage.
The operational heat plant would be located underground and encased in concrete and hence operation noise emissions would be minimal and unlikely to cause complaint.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Will there be a high level of traffic disruption as a result of the proposed development by GT Energy?”]At its peak, the development would result in a maximum daily traffic generation of 35 heavy goods vehicle and 30 light vehicle movements accessing the Devonshire Street site via the proposed access junction of Coverdale Crescent over a period of 20 days.
This volume of additional traffic will be indiscernible against existing background traffic levels on local roads.
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”What sort of visual impact will the Geothermal Plant make?”]The primary contributor to the visual impact on the locale would be the proposed temporary drilling rig; however, this would be required for a short term duration of only approximately 150 days on site.
Once the site is operational, above ground the Geothermal Plant will be the same size as two garden sheds.
In addition, in order to keep site cleanliness and condition high at all times, GT Energy will conduct regular wheel-washing of vehicles as well as street cleaning. Mitigation measures will also be put in place in respect of dust suppression should it be required.[/spoiler] [/accordion]