Geothermal power plants are the ugly ducklings of the energy world; they’re not as big or flashy as wind and solar plants, and most of their energy-producing magic happens underground. But a new $25 million geothermal plant being planned by the U.K’s Eden Project and EGS Energy could give geothermal energy some much-deserved attention–the power source is more reliable than both wind and solar.
The proposed geothermal plant–Britain’s first–will release heat buried three miles below the surface of Cornwall to drive electricity-producing turbines above ground. If successful, the plant will produce up to 3 megawatts of power, or enough to power almost 5,000 homes. Eden believes that the large reserves of geothermal energy buried below Cornwall could eventually provide enough power for 10% of the U.K. Initially, though, the plant will be used to power the Eden Project, a green theme park that contains the world’s largest greenhouse. EGS and Eden plan to have the plant up and running by 2012.
Eden may be building the U.K.’s first geothermal plant, but other countries have invested heavily in the technology. The U.S. has 2,687 MW of installed capacity, the Phillippines has 1,987 MW, and Indonesia has 992 MW of geothermal power.