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Plans submitted for geothermal energy research in Clyde Gateway

The BGS and NERC have submitted plans for the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field site for the Clyde Gateway area.

One of two sites proposed in the £31M 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, this 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 £9M 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 of 22 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 has been working on the technical details for the Observatory and has now submitted planning applications for the 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.

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.”

University of Strathclyde’s professor of geological engineering and chair of the UK Geoenergy Observatories Science Advisory Group Zoe Shipton said: “We need low carbon 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.”

The BGS held a community engagement event in Dalmarnock in September 2017 and has since been consulting with local stakeholders and residents.

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