A campaign is under way on the Abundance crowdfunding platform to raise money to build a 3MW geothermal power station near the town of Redruth in western Cornwall. Â
The United Downs Geothermal project is expected to require about £18m ($23.6m) to build. So far it has been granted £10.6m by the EU’s Regional Development Fund and has been given a £2.4m loan by Cornwall council.
The remaining £5m will, it is hoped, be supplied by the private sector. The crowdfunding target is £4.4m, of which almost £3.5m has already been raised.
The project is being led by Geothermal Engineering, a UK company founded by Ryan Law, a geothermal engineer who has worked with Arup on other UK geothermal projects.
Beneath the soil of Cornwall is a geological formation known as the Cornubian batholith: a massive extrusion of granite that breaks the surface to form the county’s moors, as well as Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly. This mildly radioactive formation give the county a steeper "geothermal gradient" than other areas of the UK, and research projects on the possibility of geothermal power have been undertaken since the 1970s.
Investors who buy into the plant are offered a 12% annual interest rate, with repayment in 18 months. Geothermal adds that investors will "have first-ranking security over the assets of and shares in the company". The reassurance and the generous interest rate reflects the perception that geothermal is a high-risk investment compared with solar or wind.
Between now and the end of March 2019, Geothermal plans to drill a production and an injection well several kilometres beneath the ground. These will be tested before a power plant is constructed above ground.
The amount of power the wells are expected to produce will be only about 3MW, however it has the advantage of being a continuous producer, and will require no fuel to operate.
The Abundance website specialises in investments that "create something good for the environment and society".
Image: The Cornubian batholith breaks surface in these Dartmoor tors (Creative Commons)