Newcastle Geothermal project under way

A project to source deep-geothermal heat from under the city of Newcastle started yesterday, in an ambitious project that is ground-breaking in more ways than one. Engineers from Newcastle University […]

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By Tom Gibson

A project to source deep-geothermal heat from under the city of Newcastle started yesterday, in an ambitious project that is ground-breaking in more ways than one.

Engineers from Newcastle University have started to drill to 2 kilometres underneath the centre and hope to pump out water hot enough to heat the city.

The engineering team believe the boreholes will provide an everlasting source of low-carbon energy. Pumping out water as hot as 80 degrees centigrade could heat domestic and commercial central heating systems.

Funded by the Newcastle Science City Partnership and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the £900,000 project involves experts from both Newcastle and Durham universities.

Professor Paul Younger, Director of the University’s Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability and project leader said: “It’s an incredibly exciting project. If we’re right and we pump up water at such elevated temperatures, it would mean a fully renewable energy supply for a large part of the city centre, massively reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Newcastle is already recognised as the UK’s most sustainable city and has been for the past two years.

The project aims to be pumping hot water as early as June. Those in the industry hope that the success of this project will drive similar projects forward.

Dr Ryan Law, MD of Geothermal Engineering said: “The project is a good step to transforming UK policy making. This project is about heating and its very much about the development of geothermal. It can be absolutely as useful as generating for electricity. Especially if the UK moves to a district heating network, it is important.”

Deep Geothermal projects can be drilled to deeper than 5km, where, if in an appropriate location, can find temperatures greater than 100 degrees Celcius. This means water pumped down returns to the surface, able to turn turbines and generate clean electricity.

Professor Younger added:”Unlike other renewables such as wind and solar, geothermal energy is available at all times, independent of the weather.”

Deep geothermal in the UK has received support from Minister of State Greg Barker, Dr Law told ELN: “He is interested in what the industry is looking for. He was very positive.”

The renewable industry is hoping that review of the government’s stance on deep geothermal projects will increase the number of geothermal licenses in the UK, higher subsidies for early stage development and a separate classification in the Renewable Heat Incentive.