Jun 09, 2020

Abandoned British Coal Mines to Provide Warm Water

Homes in a North East England village will be heated by warm water from flooded mines

mining

A new garden village in County Durham, North East England will soon be getting warm water from a disused mine.

South Seaham Garden Village has a total of 1,500 residents.

According to BBC News, the temperatures are raised naturally by heat from the Earth's crust. The water will then be pumped up from flooded shafts and used to heat the whole district using a single system.

Surveying work for the scheme is occurring soon, reported BBC News.

If the project succeeds, it will help meet the UK target of virtually zero carbon emissions by 2050. Since a quarter of Britain’s homes sit on coalfields, the potential is there. Some mines will likely not be suitable for the project but it is hoped that many will supply consistent warm water.

Selling warm water might cover the costs of pumping mines, added BBC News. Heat for homes, business and industry is the single biggest contributor to UK emissions, producing almost 40% of Britain's carbon emissions.

The energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, told BBC News: 

“I think it’s potentially transformational. We have this huge historic legacy in terms of coal, and being able to use that footprint and turn it into a source of green energy, that’s incredibly positive,” said the energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng. 

Mine water heating is low-carbon, but not carbon-free since the water has to be further warmed using a heat pump.

According to the Coal Authority, electricity to run the pumps would be sourced from renewables where possible.

Dave Banks, a hydrogeologist at Holymoor Consultancy, believes some caveats include: uncertainty about geology, water quantity, and the corrosive nature of mine water.

One small trial heating scheme in Scotland closed after it became too costly.

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