Green light for Scotland’s first five geothermal feasibility projects

Renewable Energy Association graphic of  how geothermal energy works
Renewable Energy Association graphic of how geothermal energy works

The Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund has awarded almost quarter of a million pounds to five feasibility projects to investigate how the thermal energy in the ground can be used to heat homes and businesses.

A total of £234,000 has been awarded to projects targeting sites in Fife, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire and Aberdeenshire that will explore the technical feasibility, economic viability and environmental sustainability of the emerging technology.

The awards are the first support for geothermal projects in Scotland following a 2012-2013 study which identified significant potential for geothermal heat as a renewable heat source.

Heat is estimated to account for over half of Scotland’s total energy use and responsible for nearly half of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The following projects are a potentially vital link in demonstrating how geothermal energy could cut the estimated £2.6 billion a year spent on heating by householders and the non-domestic sector.

Guardbridge, Fife: to explore the geothermal potential under a brownfield site to provide heat to on-site industries and the local community

Polkemmet, West Lothian: to establish the feasibility of geothermal heat from mineworkings, which will heat proposed new social housing in the area

Hartwood, North Lanarkshire: to develop a fully operational minewater geothermal district heating system which could act as an exemplar of how to transform farm economics and transfer benefits to local communities

Hill of Banchory, Aberdeenshire: to explore the viability of adding geothermal energy from hot dry and hot wet rocks to the existing renewable heat network that is already serving the local communities.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre: to conduct a feasibility study for the installation of a deep geothermal single well system to provide heat to the new Centre and associated buildings

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:

Professor Russel Griggs, Chairman, Geothermal Energy Expert Group, said: “The most recent research suggests that geothermal energy offers a genuine opportunity for Scotland to develop a new industry sector, one that will allow homes and businesses to reduce heating bills while generating a sustainable cut in Scotland’s carbon footprint.

“The technology still requires further development, but these five feasibility projects, which trial new ideas and build on more established techniques, are a vital step along the road to fully utilising this potentially extremely valuable resource.”

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “As heat is estimated to account for over half of Scotland’s total energy use and is responsible for nearly half of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, it makes sense that we explore and grow technologies such as geothermal energy. 

“These five projects demonstrate how the Scottish Government is supporting the geothermal industry to make the most of this largely untapped resource and to develop a delivery model which reduces carbon emissions, is self-sustaining and is economically viable.

“These projects will help improve our understanding of this renewable energy source and the contribution it can make to helping Scotland reduce its carbon emissions”


View the full 10-page Special Report: 2015 Heriot Watt University Energy Academy / Scottish Energy News research of the year competition


Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed