PLANS to extract geothermal energy from beneath Crewe are being explored by Cheshire East Council (CEC).

The town has been identified as one of only six sites in the UK with the potential to deliver the renewable energy source.

At today’s Cabinet meeting, Monday July 22, members voted to begin a feasibility study into the potential for deep geothermal energy generation at a 2.5 acre site in Leighton West, close to Bentley’s factory on Pyms Lane.

The council point to independent studies that show parts of the borough are sitting on enough natural energy supplies to heat every home in Cheshire East for centuries.

Boreholes 4km deep will be drilled to access 100c hot water beneath the Cheshire Basin. The water could then be extracted and the steam used to drive turbines for electricity generation.

An independent study will now be commissioned to report on both the suitability of the site and how the extraction could take place.

Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the earth. The geothermal energy of the earth’s crust derives from the original formation of the planet and from the radioactive decay of minerals.

The natural energy source, used widely in parts of Europe, Japan, America and Thailand, is green, clean and cheap.

It has been found in abundance in Crewe following studies by consultants on behalf of the Renewable Energy Association.

The discovery provides the potential to drive down local energy prices, create a self-sufficient energy supply and cut down on Co2 emissions.

Should extraction be proved viable, it would place Cheshire East at the forefront of the growth of geothermal energy in the UK.

The opportunity at Leighton was identified through background research undertaken by the council with support from consultants late last year.

The research looked at sites owned by the council where opportunities for deep geothermal heat and power could be unlocked.

Leader of Cheshire East Council, clr Michael Jones, said: “Cheshire East Council is placing itself at the forefront of renewable energy options by exploring the potential for our borough to be its own energy provider.

“The potential to drive down local energy prices is a big step forward and will make us one of a handful of places in the whole country with this potential.

“Cheshire East Council is an innovative and ambitious authority and we would be ignoring an important step forward for energy in this country if we were to dismiss this potential for self sufficiency.

“This feasibility study will take the first major steps towards exploring how we can begin extracting this natural source of energy from the earth’s crust and used first by the Romans.

“It will place Cheshire East at the forefront of renewable energy innovations, simply because we have the natural resources to achieve a massive reduction in Co2 emissions.

“Throughout this process we will be working closely with local people to hear their views and we promise that no work will be undertaken without a full public consultation.

“Cheshire East is committed to driving innovation and ambitious projects for our communities and so we feel it is right to begin the process of how we can exploit this natural resource so that we can present the facts. This rare resource in the Cheshire Basin is of national importance.

“Looking into the future, if the supplies are what we think they are, it has the potential to kick-start a whole new industry in Cheshire East, creating more jobs and wealth than we could imagine. We as a Council are determined to tackle fuel poverty and this is a positive step in that direction.”

Following the findings of the study and any confirmation of the potential, the Council said they would look to work with the public and private sector to bring forward a scheme which will include seeking planning permission and a public consultation as part of that process.