Scientific miners go digging for geo-thermal power sources for Glasgow in £9m study of old coal mines

Strathclyde University's Prof. Zoe Shipton
Strathclyde University’s Prof. Zoe Shipton

Two British scientific agencies have submitted plans to explore the potential of disused coal mines for providing geo-thermal energy to homes in Glasgow.

The focus of the hunt at the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site- where the city borders the Lanarkshire coal field – is for geothermal energy.

It is one of two sites proposed in the £31 million UK Geoenergy Observatories Project led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main agency for funding environmental sciences, and the British Geological Survey (BGS), the UK’s principal provider of impartial geological evidence. The second site is proposed for Cheshire.

The Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site would be a £9 million project to explore the potential of geothermal energy for the benefit of local communities, as well as innovation and research into the subsurface.

The project aims to create an opportunity for research in relation to the geothermal energy potential of the warm waters in the large expanse of disused coal mines under Glasgow.

It may be possible to use that water to heat homes and businesses and store waste heat for future use. The field site proposed for the Clyde Gateway area would comprise a number of boreholes of various depths to create the opportunity to research the area’s geology and underground water systems.

The BGS has now submitted planning applications for 22 boreholes over seven locations area to Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council for consideration.

Diarmad Campbell, BGS chief geologist for Scotland, said: “The UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow would further our understanding of the shallow geothermal energy contained within flooded mineworkings.

“It would help us to better understand that environment and to determine whether the warm water within the mineworkings below UK towns and cities could provide a sustainable heat source to help power the future.”

Professor Zoe Shipton, Professor of Geological Engineering at Strathclyde University and Chairman of the UK Geoenergy Observatories Science Advisory Group, said:

“We need low-carbon heat sources that are close to the consumer. This therefore means that geothermal heat resources will be developed below our towns and cities.

“The whole of the science community has committed to work together to create observatories to gather the data we need to understand the rocks and tunnels so we can extract heat from similar sites safely and with minimal impact to local people.”

2 May 2018

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