Letting off steam: listening to public opinions about a new geothermal power plant in Cornwall.

G29 Mechanical and Civil Engineering Building (Y3 on the campus map)
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Life and Environmental Sciences
Monday 4th February 2019 (17:00-18:00)
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Jon Clatworthy, Director of the Lapworth Museum of Geology

Email: j.c.clatworthy@bham.ac.uk

Letting off steam: listening to public opinions about a new geothermal power plant in Cornwall.

‘Geology; that’s just rocks isn’t it?’ Undoubtedly, this is a phrase anyone who is interested in geology has heard many times in their life. But, as we know, geology is more than just rocks. In fact, from reducing our carbon budget using Carbon Capture and Storage, to the deep geological disposal of radioactive waste, geologists are attempting to solve several of our biggest environmental issues in many innovative and complex ways, often involving the deep subsurface. However, for the non-geologist public, new technological solutions are often viewed with uncertainty, sometimes even fear and when questions held by the public are not addressed, the result can be catastrophic. 

Enter Deep Geothermal Power. A relative newcomer to the deep geological technologies mix in the UK, it benefits from being fairly unknown and thus avoiding major negative associations, but also being a renewable energy resource and therefore generally favourably viewed. However, the technology is almost invisible in the landscape after the initial drilling of the wells has been completed and thus operates almost entirely in the unfamiliar subsurface. For people who live and work near the site, the issues that are most important about the new geothermal development reflect a combination of their values: personal, social, cultural and regional. This research project listened to the voices of several residents to find out what is really important about the potential for geothermal in the UK and what issues we need to address to ensure that everyone can be involved in this new form of energy generation.

Part of the Lapworth Lecture Series

Speaker: Dr Hazel Gibson, Plymouth University

Dr Hazel Gibson is a researcher of the public perception and communication of geothermal power at Plymouth University. Having started her career working as an Engineering Geologist in a geotechnical firm in Australia, she moved into science communication, working in the USA and UK; eventually ending up at the Natural History Museum in London. This combination of experience in industry and public engagement led to an interdisciplinary PhD at Plymouth University, examining public perceptions of geology in the South West of England. Covering science communication, psychology, geology, hydrology and geography, this research has led to a whole new understanding of how expert and non-expert geoscientists conceptualise the geological subsurface and how that understanding can be used to improve the effectiveness of our communications.

Please note: All are welcome to attend and there is no admission charge