Under-street geothermal heating system in Glasgow, Scotland

Date: 24/10/2013

The BBC News reports that researchers in Scotland have launched a project that will use water from abandoned coal mines to supply up to 40% of Glasgow’s building heating demand. It is hoped reservoirs of water in the old mine tunnels can be used as a source of geothermal energy.

The process uses pumps to extract heat from the stored water, which can provide a cheap way to heat homes. A Caledonian University team will identify underground reservoirs with the potential to heat homes. The researchers expect to create a blueprint of the whole city within three years.

The first stage of the work will focus on the Clyde Gateway regeneration area, which covers a large area of east Glasgow. Dr. Nicholas Hytiris, a geotechnical specialist in the University’s Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology Research, said Glasgow could become the latest city to have under-street heating, after Hamburg and Stockholm.

“We believe this technology will, in the long term, be able to provide cheaper and more sustainable heating, which could be an answer to fuel poverty issues prevalent in many areas of Glasgow, particularly those with a mining past and a legacy of poor-quality housing and high unemployment,” he said. “In three years’ time we will have a full and accurate record of what is going on beneath our feet and then we can go on from there.”

Derek Drummond, sustainable technology manager at Scottish Power, said: “This is an excellent project which could prove to be very beneficial for the city and its residents. “The initial work around the Clyde Gateway regeneration area should allow a good understanding of the technical challenges involved in capturing this energy, and how it could be applied to other areas.

“It is important that we can fully understand how this energy will integrate with the electricity network,” he said.

A precursor geothermal district heating system project completed in 1999 in Glenalmond Street, in Shettleston in the east end of Glasgow, has been capturing thermal energy from a disused coal mine 100 meters under the site to heat 17 homes. Water at 12 deg C is taken from the mine, then passed through a heat pump to a thermal storage tank.

Glenalmond Street residents served by the system have heating bills of around £160 per year, as compared to £660 for an average Scottish family, according to an April 22, 2013 story in Holyrood.

According to a report by sustainable design initiative Sust., a program of architecture firm Architecture+DesignScotland (A+DS), Shettleston Housing Association judged the Glenalmond Street scheme to be a success. However it also highlighted problems maintaining the heating system, as electronic controls failed from time-to-time, and impurities in the mine water meant a better filter system was needed.

Source: IDEA