Sourcing geothermal energy from old mine shafts could heat UK homes, report argues
Thermal energy from former underground mines could play a key role in decarbonizing UK homes, according to a new study by a coalition of North East England companies.
Led by the government-funded Mine Energy Taskforce and the Local Energy Hub network, the study paper calls for greater support for the use of energy from mines and argues that the introduction of large-scale projects to heat houses from former underground shafts will reduce the net Britain could support zero targets.
It also argues that the development of mining energy systems could help support the government’s agenda to upgrade and bring economic benefits to coalfield communities and businesses across the UK.
The process involves the extraction of natural, geothermally heated water that has accumulated in the underground networks of abandoned mines, the report explains. With the help of heat pumps, the heat can be extracted and used to heat fresh water, providing low-carbon heating in residential and commercial buildings.
Heat from water in underground mines is “abundant and widespread”, according to the report, and could be “continuously available at a self-sustaining and constant temperature”.
Meanwhile, a quarter of Britain’s homes and businesses could be on former coal fields, and the Coal Authority estimates that the geothermal water from the former coal mine contains enough energy to heat all of the homes on this land.
“Decarbonising heat is one of the biggest challenges we face today, especially as we move economies to net zero,” said Andrew Clark, head of North East LEP’s energy program, who is responsible for commissioning the White Paper. “The government reports that our low-carbon economy is projected to grow four times faster than the rest of the economy by 2030. We believe that minergy can be used to further accelerate this while meeting our net-zero targets. The Northeast has A wealth of wealth So we are well positioned to take advantage of the potential benefits and opportunities of mining energy. “
The Mine Energy Taskforce, a coalition of partners from diverse industries, was developed by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and funded by a number of organizations including the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the MCS Charitable Foundation. Contributors to the White Paper include leading scientists, local authorities and large organizations such as the British Geological Survey, the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency.
One of the main touted benefits of the report is the environmental and economic boom that minergy could bring to post-industrial mining communities, especially those who have experienced the worst economic and social decline. The 42 potential systems identified in the report would create up to 15,277 jobs and add £ 793 million gross value added according to the White Paper. Other potential locations would complement those numbers, it adds.
If the 42 systems were built, the report estimates that they would save 90,500 tons of carbon each year.
While the UK has taken a leadership role in mining, it concludes that the sector needs further national support and intervention to ensure its continued growth.
BEIS Minister Lord Callanan wrote in the foreword to the study: “At the heart of this administration’s agenda are three main priorities: developing new and innovative sources of employment and economic growth, rapidly decarbonising our society, and advancing – reducing inequalities between different parts of the United States Kingdom. “
Minenergy has the potential to “create thousands of jobs and drive economic growth in some of the most deprived communities in our country.”