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May 22, 2011 | admin | Comments 0

Hot Topic: UK geothermal start-up lands celebrity staffer

pippa_middleton_2 In England, Cluff Geothermal, and maybe the geothermal industry itself, has landed the hottest property, currently, on the planet. By virtue of Cluff being run by ex-boyfriend George Percy, Pippa Middleton as agreed to join the firm.

While it is unclear what, exactly, her role will be, there can be little doubt that Middleton will bring attention and interest to the perennial ‘bridesmaid’ of the renewable energy industry. Despite being used to generate electricity for over a century, geothermal remains virtually unknown in the lexicon.

Along with French cement producer Lafarge and experts from Newcastle University, Cluff is exploring the geothermal potential of a site in Weardale, County Durham. Reports suggest that Middleton is “expected to help with lobbying for a new licensing system from the government.” This would seem to be an obvious role, given her connection to a still influential royal family. However, a friend was quoted as saying that when Percy “needed someone to help out with office stuff, she was the obvious person to ask.”

Cluff Geothermal Ltd. was started in London in 2010 with the aim of exploring for, and developing, deep geothermal energy sources. Non-Executive Chairman Algy Cluff has been a part of the oil and mineral industries since the 1970s. Percy, who is the company’s Chief Executive, holds an MA degree in Geography from Edinburgh University, having specialized in sustainable development and renewable energy.

Cluff feels that that in Europe as a whole, and in the UK specifically, there is a huge and often overlooked potential for the utilization of geothermal energy. The company’s aim is to develop sustainable geothermal energy projects providing both direct heat and electricity.

Three sites of strategic interest in the UK and overseas have been identified, both in areas with volcanic geothermal potential as well as deep radiothermal granites, and are currently in talks with the relevant parties in order to develop these sites. Assuming success with these talks, Cluff plan to raise funds for exploratory drilling within 6-9 months.

It remains to be seen whether or not Middleton’s presence will impact fund raising, either directly or indirectly. But we are all well aware of what a a well-known media figure can do for a company. In this case, an entire industry may be the beneficiary, particularly if she turns out to be a passionate advocate for the technology.

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