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Plans submitted for a geothermal research field site in Glasgow, UK

View over Glasgow/ Scotland (source: flickr/ Graeme Maclean, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 30 Apr 2018

Two of the UK’s leading scientific agencies have submitted plans for a Geothermal Energy Research Field Site, an exciting new research development proposed for the Clyde Gateway area in the east end of Glasgow.

Two of the UK’s leading scientific agencies have submitted plans for an exciting new research development proposed for the Clyde Gateway area in the east end of Glasgow.

The focus of the research at the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site would be geothermal energy. It is one of two sites proposed in the GBP31 million UK Geoenergy Observatories Project led by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main agency for funding environmental sciences, and the British Geological Survey (BGS), the UK’s principal provider of impartial geological evidence since 1835. This major project will provide infrastructure for future research opportunities. The second site is proposed for Cheshire.

The Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site would be a GBP9 million (USD 12.6m) project to explore the potential of geothermal energy for the benefit of local communities, as well as innovation and research into the subsurface. The project aims to create an opportunity for research in relation to the geothermal energy potential of the warm waters in the large expanse of disused coal mines under Glasgow. It may be possible to use that water to heat homes and businesses and store waste heat for future use.

The field site proposed for the Clyde Gateway area would comprise a number of boreholes of various depths to create the opportunity to research the area’s geology and underground water systems. Measurements would be taken from boreholes, such as temperature, water movement and water chemistry, and the data will be monitored and assessed in the coming years.

The BGS’s chief geologist for Scotland, Diarmad Campbell, said: “The UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow would further our understanding of the shallow geothermal energy contained within flooded mineworkings. It would help us to better understand that environment and to determine whether the warm water within the mineworkings below UK towns and cities could provide a sustainable heat source to help power the future.”

The BGS held a community engagement event in Dalmarnock in September 2017 and has since been consulting with local stakeholders and residents. The BGS has been working on the technical details for the Observatory and has now (April 2018) submitted planning applications for 22 boreholes over seven locations area to Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council for consideration.

The observatory boreholes would enable environmental baseline observation and mine characterisation, providing a real environment for scientists to research the potential of using the heat from the UK’s flooded mineworkings. The observatory would be operational over a 15- year lifespan and open to the whole of the UK science community to undertake research. Realtime data from state-of-the-art sensors would feed from the boreholes to an online portal that would be open, free and accessible to all.

Professor of Geological Engineering at the University of Strathclyde and Chair of the UK Geoenergy Observatories Science Advisory Group Professor Zoe Shipton said: “We need lowcarbon heat sources that are close to the consumer. This therefore means that geothermal heat resources will be developed below our towns and cities. The whole of the science community has committed to work together to create observatories to gather the data we need to understand the rocks and tunnels so we can extract heat from similar sites safely and with minimal impact to local people.”

Find out more about the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site at www.bgs.ac.uk/ukgeoenergyobs

Source: British Geological Survey