Dorset conference hears Geothermal energy could replace plans for wind turbines
A renewable energy conference held in Dorset has concluded that geothermal energy could be harnessed locally - without the need for wind power.
Two proposals to build wind farms in Dorset have proved controversial. Plans for an off-shore wind farm along with a large farm at Silton, on the Dorset-Wiltshire border have come under fire from the public.
The conference held at Christchurch Borough Council concluded that deep geothermal energy would allow the government to achieve their renewable energy targets - with the 'Wessex basin' having ideal conditions to harness the energy in Dorset.
Geothermal energy is created by harnessing hot air from below the earth's surface and turning it into useable energy.
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Tim Jackson, a Senior Geothermal Engineer at global engineering, sciences and project delivery firm SKM, said: "The UK already has world leading drilling skills and these could be applied to support geothermal projects and develop new techniques to make Engineered Geothermal System power plants more commercially attractive.
"With the right skills and supporting mechanisms in place, the resulting energy production could make a significant contribution towards achieving the UK's sustainable energy needs as well as enhancing the UK's capabilities in sustainable energy."
The geothermal method was seen to be able to produce the largest amount of renewable energy. A report from the conference concluded that deep geothermal resources could provide 20 per cent of the UK's annual average electricity requirements.
Conclusions from the conference have been sent to the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson along with all Dorset MPs.
Cllr Margaret Phipps, portfolio holder for Environment at Christchurch Borough Council, who chaired the conference, said: "We wanted to look at all renewable energy possibilities so that we wouldn't solely be relying on environmentally-controversial and visually-intrusive intermittent wind power which, in Dorset, may have detrimental consequences for our World Heritage historic environment.
"The benefit of deep geothermal energy is that, once on-stream, it provides consistent renewable energy which is available 24 hours a day and on demand. It would provide a renewable energy solution nationally."