Smart, Sustainable Growth
Geothermal energy is a clean, renewable energy source utilised around Europe for both electricity and heat. We aim to exploit the significant geothermal resource deep within the Cheshire Basin to power the smart, sustainable and clean growth of Crewe, linked to the development of the HS2 hub.
Working with partners in industry and academia, the Skills and Growth Company have been assisting Cheshire East Council to exploit this resource – contributing to local energy policy, Local Enterprise Partnership’s emerging Energy Strategy and aspirations for south Cheshire linked to HS2 and Constellation, and national carbon targets.
As part of the Ambition for All Sustainable Communities Strategy (2010-2025), the Council put forward a vision of including a step change in local production of energy from renewable sources, and has begun to explore routes that could be taken in delivering innovative and stable renewable energy within the Borough. In July 2014 the Council’s Cabinet made the decision to pursue deep geothermal with full, cross-party support. The document detailing this decision can be found on the Modern.Gov website.
In January 2015 the Council’s Energy Framework (PDF, 3.3MB) identified Geothermal energy as a significant opportunity to help deliver affordable, sustainable and decentralised energy sources.
Extensive research and modelling of this resource has demonstrated that geothermal energy could power an extensive heat network across Crewe (the start of which is under development within the town centre). To unlock the commercial potential of this resource, an exploratory well is required to fully understand the temperature and flow rate at depth – this needs to happen soon so that the future development of heat networks locally can be optimised for the renewable resource, and we are currently seeking public funding to make this happen.
The Cheshire Basin is one of four sedimentary Permo-Triassic basins in the UK which have the potential for deep geothermal, and has major advantages over other areas. The Cheshire Basin reaches depths of up to 4.5 km and temperatures reaching 100 °C, giving the potential to produce a high quantity of energy.
The scheme will target heat trapped in water in deep, sedimentary aquifers. Hot, saline brines can be utilised for heat networks via either a single, doublet or multi-well strategy. It is estimated that 75 exajoules (EJ) of energy is untapped in the basin, with 23 % of this recoverable at heat (equivalent to 2,800 million barrels of oil).
Of the available aquifers in the Cheshire Basin, the Collyhurst formation (Figure 1 – ‘Permian strata’) is expected to yield the most geothermal potential due to favourable thermal and hydro-physical properties. This formation is an aeolian-to-fluvial sandstone (deposited by wind or rivers), which in outcrop studies has high hydraulic conductivities (ability of water to flow through the rock of 1 metre/day), and high production rates of 20 – 30 litres/second. These properties, combined with high temperatures at depths of 3.5 – 4.5 km (60 – 100 °C), indicate that the Collyhurst formation is the ideal aquifer to meet the long term energy demands of the Crewe area (Figure 2 – 3).
Figure 1. Cross section of the Cheshire Basin, showing the location of Crewe. Hirst et al., (2015).