The ground-breaking renewable energy scheme aims to cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of tons per year through the construction of a district heating scheme for council owned buildings (including a residential tower block) using the previously untapped resource of geothermal energy in the abandoned mineworkings of the former Hebburn Colliery; a first of its kind.
Councillor Gibson said, “This scheme is expected to deliver a reduction of 280 tons of carbon emissions a year, which will make a significant contribution to our ambition for carbon neutrality and a greener, more sustainable borough. It will also help us meet our obligations to upgrade the energy performance of fuel-poor homes as it will be used to heat one of the town’s residential high-rise blocks.
“Since the commencement of the project in April 2020, and the appointment of FWS Consultants Ltd and associates (Stantec to provide hydrogeological and engineering support and George F White planning support) as borehole designers, we have been working in close collaboration with South Tyneside Council, the design team, the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency to progress the feasibility studies and well design options, regulatory permissions and contract design for appointment of the specialist drilling contractor.”
Now that the specialist drilling contractor has been appointed, an abstraction and reinjection well must be constructed to depths of up to 300 m in order to extract water from the abandoned workings and demonstrate viability of the scheme. Minewater from the wells will ultimately feed into an energy center located at the surface, where a water source heat pump will extract heat that will then be distributed via a new pipe network to buildings across Hebburn town center.
Matthew Lakey, FWS Managing Director, said, “FWS and our associates have been working closely with the Council and the wider design team over the last eight months to progress the borehole appraisals, well designs and contract negotiations that has led to the recent appointment of the specialist drilling contractor. As the borehole designers, FWS has been able to focus our extensive geological, environmental and hydrogeological expertise gained from providing a wide range of consultancy services to the mining and development sectors over a 40-year period.
“This has included recent high-profile projects that involved extensive geological appraisals to evaluate resource potential followed by deep well drilling at multiple sites (up to 1.7 km depth), which has been vital in ensuring the progress and success of the South Tyneside Council scheme. Ultimately this is a unique project, a first for the region, and we look forward to being able to assist South Tyneside Council during the drilling and detailed design phases and making this project a reality.”