An innovative project in Glasgow’s east end is investigating the potential for untapped mine water to be harnessed as geothermal energy that could be used to help heat up to 180 million homes in the UK. The geothermal research observatory will explore underground mine workings via 12 boreholes drilled to varying depths in Dalmarnock and Rutherglen’s Cuningar Loop. The project has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) as part of the £31 million UK Geoenergy Observatories Project and is expected to continue for 15 years. It is estimated that a quarter of all UK homes and businesses, some 9m buildings sit on former coalfields. The industry powered the British economy for more than a century but the last deep mine in Scotland, at Longannet, Fife, closed in 2002, while the last in the UK, in North Yorkshire, closed in 2015. So far, scientists have drilled four boreholes with the remaining eight partially drilled exploratory channels to be completed by autumn this year. The research into Glasgow’s geology, its underground water systems and the potential for heat from the water in the city’s disused coal mines is expected to provide vital data that could help the UK and other countries access low-cost, low-carbon heating. Measurements will be taken from the underground observatory boreholes such as temperature, water movement and water chemistry over the period. The Coal Authority, which estimates there is enough geothermal energy in coal mines to heat 180m homes, is preparing a map of potential mine water resources in Britain which could be utilised in the future of sustainable energy.
Herald 23rd Aug 2019 read more »