The team behind a visionary green scheme to build the UK’s first geothermal rum distillery and cask maturation research facility directly connected into the first deep geothermal power plant are celebrating the announcement of outline planning permission granted by Cornwall Council.
The permission, with conditions attached, is for Celsius – the Sustainable Distillery Research Centre – to be built on the hard edge of the former United Downs landfill site, adjacent to where Geothermal Energy Ltd (GEL) will be producing zero carbon, renewable power in 2022.
“What a message to the G7 delegations and world media examining climate change and green job creation here next month that Cornwall is the place to invest in renewables – all supported by our local and national governments and business leaders,” says Cornwall Geothermal Distillery Company Founder Matt Clifford. “From geothermal technologies and offshore wind to sustainable lithium extraction – we are spearheading it here in the land of world mining expertise, Goonhilly earth satellite station, Marconi’s first transatlantic radio broadcasts and the first transmitted images from the Moon!”
Waste heat will be piped from GEL’s deep geothermal energy plant directly into the Celsius centre – where pioneering technology being developed by the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company(CGDC) and engineers Buro Happold will boost its temperature using innovative heat pump technology. This will operate a copper still for distilling rum and a facility to “geothermally” mature rum in casks – creating the template for one of the most sustainable carbon neutral distillery projects in the UK.
Buro Happold Associate Nick Boid says, “We truly believe this project is a landmark step in boosting the distillery industry’s ability to operate sustainably and we are delighted to see it receive outline planning permission. Through using waste industrial heat and renewable power we can begin to decarbonise the sector – and the Celsius centre will act as a pioneering project to show how this can be done.”
For Matt Clifford the announcement marks a huge vote of confidence from Cornwall Council – which has invested in the United Downs Deep Geothermal Energy Plant and stated that it wishes to see a hub of geothermal-related enterprise on land it owns surrounding the GEL site.
The £5million Celsius research and development project is the evolution of two and a half years’ work – and is already backed by the UK Government’s Green Distilleries Competition, in which it won the highest single award in Phase 1 of £75,000.
Celsius is now entering Phase 2 of the Competition – with the green technologies it is developing seen as key to the success of future projects not just in the distillery sector but with application for enterprises to use waste heat from other industrial processes too.
“This is the most significant milestone our project has achieved and it makes Celsius very real,” says Matthew. “The concept and principle of the project is now formally established and has the official go ahead to proceed. The conditions we must meet before we get to full planning consent are exactly what we expected, agreed with all parties, and reflective of what we would seek to satisfy from a technical and safety aspect in any case, meaning, we are very happy with this outcome. We look forward to working closely with Cornwall Council, the Environment Agency and other organisations whose expertise and knowledge is crucial to development of this unusual site.”
Former South Crofty tin miner and long-serving local councillor Mark Kaczmarek lives near United Downs and has followed progress of the geothermal projects there with huge interest, knowing there is widespread support: “Once again Cornwall is forging a global technological way. I’m excited that this part of the world is becoming the first in Britain to use deep geothermal energy as a main source of power and I’m delighted that CGDC has chosen Cornwall to invest in and create much-needed green, quality jobs as we grow sustainably out of the pandemic.”
Matt continues, “We are deeply grateful for this support from Cornwall Council, the UK Government and many other organisations and individuals including our brilliant CGDC Team and Partners. After two and a half years, we have permission – in principle and subject to full planning permission – to build a beautiful, sustainable Celsius dedicated research facility, working symbiotically with our friends and neighbours at the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant – it is incredible.”
The Celsius Centre is a £5million project initially creating 6 full-time distillery-related and research jobs including Master Blenders, Coopers (barrel makers and restorers) and an aim to create associated apprenticeships – within a simple wooden clad, sedum roofed eco-building.
CGDC continues to share its plans as they evolve with the communities close to United Downs, so local people have the opportunity to input their thoughts and impart the local knowledge which is invaluable to the project.
Initial concept imagery by Grimshaw Architects for the Celsius – Sustainable Distillery Research Centre eco-building