CeraPhi Energy pioneers the reuse of abandoned gas wells for renewable energy in the UK
The village of Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, once a battleground for environmental protests against fracking, is now poised to become a trailblazer in Britain’s clean energy revolution. CeraPhi Energy, a company founded by former oil and gas industry professionals, plans to repurpose an abandoned gas well as a source of geothermal energy. This groundbreaking project marks the first time in the UK that a disused fracking site will be transformed into a renewable energy source.
From Fracking Controversy to Clean Energy Potential
The fracking site in Kirby Misperton was originally intended to tap into shale gas reserves deep beneath the earth’s surface. However, plans for fracking were halted in 2016 due to a government moratorium on the technology. CeraPhi Energy, led by industry veteran Karl Farrow, saw an opportunity to leverage their drilling expertise and infrastructure to harness the untapped potential of geothermal energy.
The Transition to Geothermal Energy
Farrow, who spent three decades in the fossil fuel sector, established CeraPhi Energy in 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The company aims to bring together professionals with deep knowledge of the oil and gas industry to unlock a new source of clean energy. By repurposing their drilling expertise, CeraPhi Energy plans to extract renewable energy from beneath the earth’s surface, utilizing a process similar to traditional fossil fuel extraction.
Harnessing Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy extraction involves drilling deep boreholes, typically reaching depths of two to three miles. Cold water is then pumped through these boreholes at low pressures, capturing the heat from the rocks beneath the Earth’s surface. The heated water is subsequently returned to the surface through a second borehole, where it can be used for heating homes, generating electricity, or other applications.
Minimal Environmental Risk
Unlike fracking, geothermal energy extraction poses minimal environmental risks. The well is sealed, and the water lines operate in a closed-loop system, eliminating any exposure to the subsurface. This closed-loop system ensures a completely sealed environment, similar to pushing a test tube into sand.
Positive Results and Future Plans
The Kirby Misperton geothermal project is currently in its final testing phase, with promising results exceeding initial expectations. Farrow’s team recorded temperatures of 110 degrees Celsius at the base of the wells, surpassing the anticipated 90 degrees. He intends to share these findings with the local community, authorities, and government bodies to showcase the potential of geothermal energy in the UK. CeraPhi Energy plans to develop the site into a fully operational project, providing heat to local networks such as residential blocks, schools, hospitals, and office parks.
Geothermal Energy’s Role in Decarbonizing Heating
Farrow believes that geothermal energy could be a direct competitor to gas heating, accounting for 15-20% of the energy mix for heat in the future. While major oil companies have traditionally viewed geothermal energy as a science project, Farrow sees a global shift towards a “geothermal decade.” However, he emphasizes the need for government support to accelerate the adoption of geothermal energy in decarbonizing heating.
Geothermal Energy’s Economic and Social Benefits
Apart from its potential as a clean heating source, geothermal energy offers a fortuitous economic boost to areas in need of investment, aligning with the UK government’s levelling up plan. Regions such as Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, East Lindsey, Hartlepool, Northumberland, and Bassetlaw, which have been identified as areas in need of levelling up, are well-suited for geothermal energy production. Other areas with geothermal potential include Newcastle upon Tyne, North East Derbyshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and Nottingham.
Unlocking the Potential of Geothermal Energy
With vast geothermal energy resources underground, the UK has the capacity to heat homes solely through this renewable source for a century. Farrow emphasizes the need to raise the profile of geothermal energy and bring it “out of the shadows into the light.”
The transformation of the former fracking site in Kirby Misperton into a geothermal energy source represents a significant milestone in the UK’s clean energy transition. Led by CeraPhi Energy, a team of experienced oil and gas professionals, this pioneering project demonstrates the potential of repurposing existing infrastructure and expertise for renewable energy production. Geothermal energy offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, with the potential to play a significant role in decarbonizing heating and boosting local economies. As the world moves towards a geothermal decade, it is crucial for governments and industry stakeholders to support the development and adoption of this abundant and untapped energy source.