The coal mines of Britain played a significant role in the development of industry, but now with so many abandoned and all set to be closed by October 2024, the U.K. is looking into alternative uses for the mines, reports CNBC. It’s part of a worldwide trend of moving to sustainability and emission reduction, with countries everywhere tackling solutions in new and innovative ways.
Scotland is doing research into finding a way to harness the heat that is trapped in water that has flooded the old mines to provide heating for buildings. The Glasgow Geoenergy Observatory is drilling boreholes into mines that were naturally flooded over time and that have a heat signature between roughly 52-55.5 degrees Fahrenheit (11-13 Celsius); in comparison, the groundwater in Scotland is generally around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C).
With fully a quarter of U.K. residences sitting atop abandoned coal mines, the heating potential is enormous. Already in northeast England, the South Tyneside Council is funding a project that will capture the geothermal heating potential from the abandoned coal mines in the area and utilize it to heat buildings.
“The water in these mines is a low carbon, sustainable heat source, which under the right conditions can compete with public supply gas prices and deliver carbon savings up to 75% compared to gas heating,” according to Britain’s Coal Authority.
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Drilling into old mines for geothermal heating is being done in many countries, including the Netherlands and Spain, and is part of innovative solutions by countries to find renewable, sustainable sources of energy.
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