1. ITV Report

Drive launched to promote Cornwall's 'hot rocks'

A computer-generated image of the hot rocks Photo: Tigerx

A new drive has been launched at Westminster to promote heat and energy from Cornwall's "hot rocks". The setting up of a cross-party working group is aimed at sharing knowledge among MPs but also aims to bring pressure to bear on the government to provide more financial assistance.

Despite many environmental advantages no scheme has been successfully launched to take advantage of Cornwall's natural energy resource.

Unlike wind power, energy generated from hot rocks creates very little visual impact and unlike solar and tidal power it is constant, not intermittent. And Cornwall's granite geology contains potentially enormous amounts of untapped heat and energy.

A scheme to power the Eden Project and several thousand homes in the area has won planning permission for two test boreholes, and a power plant on the surface. This would involve drilling down three miles underground, pumping in water which would be naturally heated and then returned to the surface. However, the £22 million pounds to fund the project has still not been raised and some government support seems to be vital to get the project off the ground.

The Energy Minister, Greg Barker, has told the working party that the government is willing to support geothermal energy in Cornwall but it is still unclear when this support would appear and by how much the government would support the project. In the meantime negotiations are still continuing about the level of tariff at which the electiricty generated could be sold.

The private sector is clearly wary about making too big a commitment, since until those boreholes are dug we cannot be certain just how reliable this energy is.

But we have the geology, and the technology - all we need now is some serious political impetus. This is, after all, an idea that's been around not just for years, but generations.