A current study by the British Geological Society (BGS) into how groundwater in former mine workings could be used to drive city-scale district heating systems has the potential to transform the way Scottish households and businesses heat their homes. David Schofield, science director for energy systems at the BGS, explains that if there is a sufficient flow of groundwater into and through old abandoned mine workings, then it could be feasible to extract some of the heat out of that groundwater to drive a district heating network. Research into the geothermal energy within these flooded mines could turn this redundant resource into a clean heating source. Schofield points out the magnitude of possibilities for reducing fuel poverty and developing resilient communities: reminding us that much of the UK’s urban population growth over the last 200 years took place above coal seams where the essential fuel to drive industrialization was being mined. Interest in geothermal energy has been growing as a part of the renewables mix. In 2013, the government published a study into the potential for deep geothermal energy in Scotland, pointing out that virtually all geological formations in the UK have the capacity to store sufficient heat to support the use of small-scale (closed loop) ground-source heat pumps (GSHP) for heating purposes. For most of the UK, groundwater temperatures at readily accessible depths – up to 100 metres underground – are at a stable temperature of around 10 to 12°C. This could rise as high as 20°C in some of the UK’s abandoned mineworkings. £31m will fund two observatories: the UK Geoenergy Observatories. A £9m observatory proposed for the east end of Glasgow will establish the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site: to take forward research into the shallow mineworkings below Dalmarnock. A £15m observatory in Cheshire will establish the Cheshire Energy Research Field Site, which will look at the geological environment for all energy technologies. The remaining funding is invested in the infrastructure required to operate both sites.
Herald 30th April 2018 read more »