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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Earth Sciences Research Debated in Westminster

(6 July 2018)

Research being undertaken by Dr Charlotte Adams and Prof Jon Gluyas was the subject of a debate held in Westminster recently. This research considers the potential of abandoned coal mines in the UK for decarbonising heat demand.

The debate was led by Helen Goodman who is the MP for Bishop Auckland and has been working with Dr Adams on a project to investigate the potential of abandoned mines beneath the town of Spennymoor to heat a planned development of new homes. This research shows that there is resource in place for more than 100 homes and that now is the time to highlight this potential amongst developers and planners. This research is transferrable to other mining regions and it is estimated that around one third of UK homes are located in former mining areas and could access this resource.

Helen Goodman made the point that: "There is a lot of potential for the use of geothermal energy available to us that we are not fully utilising.”

As part of her response to the debate, Claire Perry, Minister of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “it would be great to think that at the Durham miners’ gala on 14 July, the topic might be how the legacy that was so painfully won by the shovels and picks of so many men could be used to create something positive for our low-carbon future.”

Dr Adams commented: "I am delighted that my research on geothermal energy has been debated in Westminster. I firmly believe that geothermal has an important role in the UK's future energy mix as a low carbon energy source that could be used to offset consumption of natural gas. Finding alternative, low carbon heat sources is important because heat accounts for around half of the UK's energy demand and most of this is provided by natural gas. Around 80% of our homes are reliant on gas and the UK has been a net importer of this fuel for over a decade. This has implications for our future energy security. BritGeothermal is a national research group that has been working to promote the UK's geothermal resource which we estimate has the potential to meet the UK’s heat demand for many decades.”

Dr Adams and Prof Gluyas will continue working with Helen Goodman and the Coal Authority who managed the liability for UK abandoned mines, to promote the potential of this resource by working through the technical and non technical challenges to its deployment.


Links CeREES []

BritGeothermal []