36bn GWh: the “limitless” Geothermal from old UK coal mines. The Earth gets hotter by 2.5C to 3.5C with each 100m depth. It’s what makes geothermal energy possible, anywhere. In the UK geothermal could meet the nation’s heat demands for at least 100 years, say Jon Gluyas, Andrew Crossland and Charlotte Adams of the Durham Energy Institute. Properly managed it could last indefinitely. Given that heat does not travel well, geothermal must be developed locally. Fortunately, accessible heat lies beneath or adjacent to most major UK population centres. It has around 23,000 abandoned coal mines, all deep heat sources, surrounded by the towns and cities built to serve them, amounting to 40% of UK housing stock. The authors estimate 36,000,000TWh of heat storage capacity exists in those mines. Given the UK’s total electricity consumption in 2018 was a little over 300TWh, geothermal could be a game changer. The UK heat strategy is at a crossroads. It could chase electrified heat through heat pumps and create headaches for the electricity industry in working out how to supply increased and highly seasonal power demand in a low carbon manner. Alternatively, a mixed approach could be adopted including better use of our onshore geothermal resources to reduce our heat demand and again provide heat in a more localised way. Britain’s abandoned coal mines have often been viewed within the lens of the negativity of the 1970s and 1980s. We now believe these hold the key to a new community responsible approach to decarbonisation.
Energy Post 3rd May 2019 read more »