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Old mines could provide heating
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Thousands of homes and offices in Fife could see their energy bills slashed if they were warmed with flood water pumped from long-abandoned coal mines.
Old mines could provide heating

That is the view of the British Geological Survey (BGS), who said utilising the heat energy in water trapped underground would be feasible if geologists surveyed the vast network of old mine shafts.

It follows a similar project in Glasgow where old mine workings have been mapped to help developers identify pools of warm, subterranean water. At the British Science Festival in Aberdeen a fortnight ago, scientists unveiled 3D maps that showed groundwater could be tapped from a flooded network of disused coal mines under Glasgow. Rather than circulating the water through new, dedicated bore holes to draw out heat from surrounding rocks, heat could be extracted directly from water in the mine system.

The groundwater would be cooled, depositing the heat extracted from it at the surface, before being returned underground. Already demonstrated in a housing project, the new survey - produced with Glasgow City Council - shows where the heating technique could be used.

Results of tests by BGS suggest 40 per cent of the city's heat could be provided in this way; Glasgow's' miners may have left a valuable inheritance a renewable and very green way of heating, and even cooling, the city.

The huge amounts of water now held in the shafts, and tunnels beneath Glasgow, can be tapped into. Heat pumps, which work in much the same way as fridges, can be used to 'concentrate' heat energy from lower temperature waters in the mines to make water hot enough to heat buildings. The heat can then be removed and used to warm the city's houses and offices.

During summer, when buildings like hospitals need to be kept cool, the system can be reversed; the excess heat is stored underground for use in the winter.

Glasgow's small pilot scheme has been using heat from minewaters to keep 17 houses in Shettleston warm for over ten years.


Credits:: Dundee Courier September 2012

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