Govt. launches £250,000 Scottish challenge fund to promote geothermal energy



Iain Todd, Chairman, Fife Geothermal
Iain Todd, Chairman, Fife Geothermal

A fund to support research into exploring Scotland’s geothermal capacity to meet the energy needs of local communities is launched today by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing following a recommendation for this by the government’s geothermal expert energy group.

The Challenge Fund is open to organisations working together to benefit local communities, achieving carbon reductions which are sustainable and commercially viable on a long term basis and the development of future viable delivery models.

The maximum grant award available for each feasibility study is £50,000. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2015.

Ewing said: “Heat is estimated to account for over half of Scotland’s total energy use with an estimated £2.6 billion a year spent on heating by householders and the non-domestic sector.

“Over the last few years we have developed a better understanding and appreciation of the geothermal resource under our feet. Scotland already has two successful small-scale housing projects in Glenalmond Street, Shettleston, and Lumphinnans, Fife, which use water from disused mines to provide the heat for members of the local community.

“I have taken the advice of the Geothermal Energy Expert Group to build on the findings of the study undertaken in 2012-13 by supporting exploration of the significant potential for geothermal energy in naturally occurring groundwater and the water collecting in our abandoned mines.

“Now is the time to take the experience of the housing projects in Shettleston and Fife and take the first steps towards the development of a delivery model which reduces carbon emissions, is self-sustaining and is economically viable.”

Geothermal systems of all sizes, including combined heat and power systems, are eligible for support under the Government’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Initiative scheme. See:

The findings of a study commissioned by the Scottish Government highlight that, within Scotland, there may be significant potential for geothermal energy in naturally occurring groundwater and in minewater; see

The draft Heat Generation Policy Statement, issued for consultation in March 2014, included proposals to work with stakeholders to develop the geothermal industry in Scotland: see

Last autumn, the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism convened a group of experts to produce a viable proposal within which geothermal heat or heat and power can be encouraged and developed in a Scottish context, and its implementation accelerated with a view to reducing Scotland’s carbon footprint while providing additional security of energy supplies: see

Set up last year, the Fife Geothermal consortium group includes St. Andrews University, the British Geological Survey, Town Rock Energy, Cluff Geothermal and GT Energy.

Iain Todd, Chairman, Fife Geothermal, said: “This is an extremely encouraging step forward for a sector that offers significant potential for helping Scotland to achieve its sustainable energy ambitions, but in which there has been little commercial development to date.

“Fife is already recognised as having significant geothermal resources – both in terms of its geology and using hot water from former mine workings.”

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented: “Heating is our biggest source of climate emissions and geothermal energy can play a major part in replacing fossil-fuelled heating. We already know that there is potential to deploy geothermal energy on a very wide scale in Scotland.

“This new funding is very welcome and will help good proposals get moving and attract further investment. Different techniques will have different impacts but geothermal energy is clearly worth serious investigation, and it is great that the Scottish Government is taking the lead in making this happen.”

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