Could disused coal mines be the key to clean heat?

A geothermal research observatory and field site will research how underground warmth could heat local buildings

The Big Zero report

Could disused coal mines be the key to clean heat?

That’s the question being posed by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS), which have had two proposed research facilities approved by Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council.

The organisations will build a geothermal research observatory, which will study whether warm water in old mines could be used to heat local buildings, as well as a field site with boreholes of various depths to research the area’s geology and underground water systems.

The two sites proposed in the £31 million scheme will carry out experiments over a period of around 15 years.

The observatory will be open to the national science community to undertake research, feeding continuous data from borehole sensors to an online portal that will be open, free and accessible to the public, government, regulators, academia and industry.

Professor Zoe Shipton, Professor of Geological Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said: “One of our biggest climate change challenges is how to decarbonise our heat.

“The research at the UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow will contribute a vital body of evidence on what the potential solutions are and how to do them safely and with minimal impact on the environment.”

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