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Durham University

Research & business

Research helps transform coal mine into geothermal heat source

(24 April 2020)

Our research is being used to transform coal mines into multi-million pound renewable energy systems.

Energy researchers at Durham have been exploring sustainable, low carbon, heating using water from abandoned former coal mines.

Renewable energy

This research is now being used as part of a £7 million renewable energy project in South Tyneside, North East England. .

The project will see water extracted from flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery by drilling vertical boreholes 300-400m underground. It will then be compressed to a much higher temperature and distributed to the network to heat council-owned buildings including a residential tower block.

Heat production accounts for over half of the UK’s energy demand and currently most of this is met by burning gas – a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

Carbon emissions

Geothermal energy is a reliable, cleaner source of heat and geothermal energy also has the potential to reduce the UK’s reliance on imported gas from other countries.

The project is expected to deliver a reduction of 319 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, helping the local council’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2030.

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