It's one of Cornwall's biggest attractions, looking like a cross between a lunar landing station and a James Bond villain's lair, and now a plan to heat the giant biomes of the Eden Project by tapping into the “hot rocks” beneath it has received a boost.
The project has secured the £16.8m (€19.4m) funding needed to begin drilling the first well for the clean energy project next summer, a plan that will eventually see it heating neighbouring communities. The gigantic hemispherical greenhouses of the Eden Project were dreamt up by ex-record producer, Tim Smit, and the glass-domed ‘biomes’ recreate major world climate systems in microcosm. These range from the lush jungles of the Amazon rainforest, complete with a treetop walkway winding through the canopy, to the olive trees, citrus groves and colourful flowers of the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
This first well will initially supply a district heating system for Eden’s biomes, offices and greenhouses. It will pave the way for the second phase - another 4.5km well and an electricity plant. Completing the second phase will mean that Eden will be generating sufficient renewable energy to become carbon positive by 2023 as well as aiming to be able to provide heat and power for the local area. Sir Tim Smit said that securing funds and thereby the chance to spark an energy revolution amounts to the biggest leap forward for Eden since it opened in a former clay quarry near St Austell in 2001.
“Since we began, Eden has had a dream that the world should be powered by renewable energy," he said. "The sun can provide massive solar power and the wind has been harnessed by humankind for thousands of years, but because both are intermittent and battery technology cannot yet store all we need, there is a gap. We believe the answer lies beneath our feet in the heat underground that can be accessed by drilling technology that pumps water towards the centre of the earth and brings it back up superheated to provide us with heat and electricity."
For further information on the Eden Project, please see here.