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“Geothermal energy is an exciting industry to be in”

Lucy Cotton is the Geothermal Group Manager and Senior Geologist at GeoScience Ltd

4 September 2023

Pictured, above: Lucy Cotton, Geothermal Group Manager at GeoScience

Tell us about your work

As the Geothermal Group Manager at GeoScience, my responsibilities are split between people management, business management, and being a technical specialist. GeoScience itself is a UK-based consultancy specialising in geology, geomechanics, and geothermal technology applied across the energy sector. In the geothermal group, we work with all geothermal technologies from the surface to 5,000 m depth and beyond. We guide our clients along their geothermal energy journey, taking them through the different phases of development, with a large focus on feasibility options, appraisals, and exploration. We also offer support for geothermal developers, providing on-site geology services and due diligence for potential investors.

What are you currently working on?

We are working on a few different projects across the spectrum of geothermal, from deep enhanced geothermal projects to shallow ground source heat pumps. From a personal perspective, our most exciting current piece of work is the Tin Coast mine water geothermal project, where we are looking into the potential of using flooded abandoned mine workings on the Penwith Peninsula to produce geothermal energy. This is a jointly funded project by The National Trust, Live West, and Cornwall Council that, if deemed feasible, could be the first development of geothermal energy from flooded abandoned metal mines in the UK. Logging took place at the end of April 2023, which has helped us to assess the significance of the heat stored in different shafts.

What’s a typical day for you?

My days are quite varied, no weeks are alike. Since we are still in the early stages of developing the mine water geothermal industry using metal mines in Cornwall and the southwest, there is a lot of fieldwork that needs to be done to acquire a base-level data set, which I am very much enjoying. In the technical aspects of my job, I am lucky to have a good balance of data collection, analysis, interpretation, and report writing. Much of my time is also spent managing our team of talented and dedicated geothermal enthusiasts, liaising with clients, and contributing to the wider direction of the geothermal industry in the UK.

What’s your favourite thing about your work?

It is impossible to narrow it down. I really enjoy the technical challenges and learning from the industry experts who surround me. I also love working on a drilling rig. I was the Project Geologist during the drilling of the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project and the Lead Site Geologist for Eden Geothermal. There is no substitute for the experience you gain learning on the job in a drilling environment – it’s high pressure, immersive, and
very exciting.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to work in your field?

My advice is to network with people in the geothermal industry. The geothermal industry in the UK is still very small, and you will rapidly gain a lot of insight into the industry if you talk to those who are already involved. The annual UK Geothermal Symposium, organised by the Society, is a good place to start. Working in geothermal energy is not an easy career path, we still face many challenges, such as ensuring that geothermal energy is recognised by decision-makers as a legitimate renewable energy source for the UK’s energy mix, but we are close to achieving this and it is definitely an exciting industry to be in.


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