Glasgow under-street heating plan unveiled

Backers of geothermal energy say it provides a cheap source of heating

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Researchers are launching a project which aims to use water from abandoned coal mines to provide up to 40% of Glasgow's heat.

It is hoped reservoirs in the city's old tunnels can be used to create geothermal energy.

The process uses pumps to extract heat from the stored water, which can provide a cheap way to heat homes.

A Glasgow Caledonian University team will identify underground reservoirs with the potential to heat homes.

The researchers expect to create a blueprint of the whole city within three years.

The first stage of the work will focus on the Clyde Gateway regeneration area, which covers a large area of east Glasgow.

Geotechnical specialist Dr Nicholas Hytiris said Glasgow could become the latest city to have under-street heating, after Hamburg and Stockholm.

Case study - Glenalmond Street

Glenalmond street

Glenalmond Street, in Shettleston in the east end of Glasgow, has been using geothermal energy for 10 years to heat 17 homes.

Water at 12C is taken from a disused coal mine 100 metres under the site, then passed through a heat pump to the thermal storage tank.

According to a report by sustainable design initiative Sust, Shettleston Housing Association judged the scheme to be a success.

However it also highlighted problems maintaining the heating system, as electronic controls failed from time-to-time, and impurities in the mine water meant a better filter system was needed.

"We believe this technology will, in the long term, be able to provide cheaper and more sustainable heating, which could be an answer to fuel poverty issues prevalent in many areas of Glasgow, particularly those with a mining past and a legacy of poor-quality housing and high unemployment," he said.

"In three years' time we will have a full and accurate record of what is going on beneath our feet and then we can go on from there."

The British Geological Survey has offered access to its data for the project, including a 3D model of the city, while the work will be done by PHD student Emma Church, part-funded by Scottish Power.

Derek Drummond, sustainable technology manager at Scottish Power, said: "This is an excellent project which could prove to be very beneficial for the city and its residents.

"The initial work around the Clyde Gateway regeneration area should allow a good understanding of the technical challenges involved in capturing this energy, and how it could be applied to other areas.

"It is important that we can fully understand how this energy will integrate with the electricity network."

Glenalmond Street, in the east end of Glasgow, has been using geothermal energy for 10 years, heating 17 homes.

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