Cornwall - A History of Innovation
In the 18th and 19th centuries Cornwall was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution.
Driven by demand to extract mineral wealth from deep underground, the county produced scientists like Sir Humphrey Davy, engineers like Richard Trevithick, and attracted innovators like William Murdoch, the Scottish engineer drawn to Cornwall by the development of the first efficient steam engines.
At his home in Redruth, in 1784, Murdoch pioneered the use of gas lighting and provided the foundations for the global gas industry. In addition to creating innovative steam locomotion, Trevithick's sons and grandsons took railway engineering across the world (the Trevithick name is still celebrated in Japan).
Now we are on the brink of a new Industrial Revolution - a Climate Revolution - as we face the realities of population growth, pollution, climate change and the inexorable rise in demand for energy; energy that needs to come from clean, renewable sources if we are to survive.
For the last three decades work done in Cornwall in the 1980s has had a significant impact on the science and development of one of the most promising of these new energy sources, deep geothermal. At the Rosemanowes project near Penryn, scientists and engineers worked on extracting not minerals but heat from deep within the rocks of Cornwall.
By the early 1990s the Rosemanowes team were working with the European-funded geothermal project in Soultz, France, and with projects in Japan. Out of this project came the first commercial deep geothermal plants in Europe and now the same team are back, working with The Eden Project, to finish what was started all those years ago at Rosemanowes, and bring geothermal energy to Cornwall.
EGS technology has the potential to dwarf the output of all the world's other energy sources, so perhaps one day Cornwall will be remembered not just for past heroes and glories but for the new breed of geothermal engineers and their innovations.