Renewables & Energy


Renewables & Energy

Deep investigations for water wells and geothermal energy sites

Government policy here in the UK is working towards a carbon zero energy supply market.  Whilst undoubtedly new technologies are still to come on-line, we are already seeing a drive towards wind and solar power for the production of electricity.  However, there are other renewable sources we can tap into to reduce our overall energy loading, small scale geothermal capture is one such area.

We have already seen the start of a governmental drive towards heat pumps, albeit towards air source heat pumps, the less efficient cousin to ground source heat pumps.  With our colleagues at Borehole Solutions Ltd, we are at the forefront of drilling geothermal boreholes.  Ground source heat pumps use the fact that deep down the temperature of the ground can be considered constant, so making ground source heat pumps a lot more efficient than air sources heat pumps.

Whilst the ideal place for a wind turbine is offshore, the government recently announced a large increase in the requirement for onshore wind turbines.  Have you ever seen a wind turbine up close? – they are very large.  Such a large free-standing structure is going to need a very strong foundation.  Generally, these are supported by piles, sunk into the bedrock.

Here at GES, we can both investigate the local geology to depth and design the piles needed to support a freestanding wind turbine.  But designing the supporting piles isn’t the only thing needed when building an onshore wind turbine.  A piling rig will be used to install the piles; a crane will be needed to lift the various parts, including the sails into place.  The ground next to the turbine needs assessing to make sure it is strong enough to take the weight of the piling rig and crane.   This is often achieved by undertaking what is know as a Plate Load Test – see our page on Insitu Testing, where we discuss this technique.

Solar farms are, as one would expect, a lot lighter that a wind turbine, but they still need foundations for both the solar panels and the associated switchgear.

Generally, these sites are remote, so access roads need building to get both the plant, originally, and maintenance staff on an on-going basis.  These roads need designing, based on an appropriate site investigation, all part of our one stop approach to developing renewable energy production sites.

Then there’s lesser known elements associated with the production of electricity from renewable sources such as the battery stations.  Solar panels and wind turbines can only produce electricity when the respective conditions are right for generating.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t always match those times when the electricity is needed.  All that extra electricity needs storing somewhere – in giant batteries.  These need buildings to store them; these buildings need foundations.

Not so much a renewable source of energy, but certainly an energy efficient method of meeting local needs is that of a local Combined Heat and Power (CHP), normally gas powered, these generate electricity and use the waste heat generated to heat up water to be used in heating systems.  CHP’s can often provide independence from the grid and ‘free hot water’; Energy From Waste plants (waste Incinerators) are just a giant form of CHP.

And finally, also not so much a renewable source of energy, but local water wells provide a supply of clean, fresh, drinking water, separate from the local water supply company, offering beneficial costs savings.

Here at GES, we have the expertise and facilities to conduct the site investigations and offer practical solutions across a wide range of sites.  Our range of drilling apparatus means that we can offer deep investigations for water wells and geothermal energy sites.  We are well placed to assist in these areas, with our engineering team boasting a wide range of transferrable experience from mechanical engineering to mineral exploration.

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