Research carried out at Durham University in Durham, England, is being used to transform coal mines into multi-million pound renewable energy systems.
Coast of South Tyneside
Energy researchers at the university have been exploring sustainable, low carbon, heating using water from abandoned former coal mines.
This research is now being used as part of a £7 million renewable energy project in South Tyneside, Northeast England. The project, which is being developed in collaboration with the Coal Authority and the South Tyneside Council, has preliminary approval for £3.5million funding from the European Regional Development Fund,
The project will see water extracted from flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery by drilling vertical boreholes 300-400m underground. It will then be compressed to a much higher temperature and distributed to the network to heat council-owned buildings including a residential tower block.
Heat production accounts for over half of the UK’s energy demand and currently most of this is met by burning gas – a major contributor to greenhouse gases.
Geothermal energy is a reliable, cleaner source of heat and geothermal energy also has the potential to reduce the UK’s reliance on imported gas from other countries.
The project is expected to deliver a reduction of 319 tons of carbon emissions a year, helping the local council’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2030.