£450k Project to Investigate Possibility of Using Coal Mine Water from Wales to Heat Homes

Published on: 14 July 2022
by KnowESG
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A new £450,000 study, funded by the Welsh Government, will explore whether water from abandoned mines could play a role in meeting Wales' future energy requirements.

The mines of Wales were instrumental in igniting the industrial revolution, but once they were abandoned, the pumps that kept them dry were frequently turned off, resulting in flooding.

The Climate Change Minister, Julie James, has stated that the government's backing will enable the Coal Authority to study whether geologically heated water could be used to heat homes, businesses, and industry in Wales.

Sites will be mapped to provide a high-level assessment of where the greatest potential lies, and comprehensive feasibility studies will be conducted on those deemed to have the highest probability of connecting to existing structures and new construction.

About 40 per cent of the energy consumed in Wales is used to heat homes, companies, and industry.

Gas provides the majority of this heat, but as part of decarbonisation efforts, there will be no gas connections in newly constructed homes in Wales by 2025.

Mine water is a low-carbon, sustainable heat source that might compete with public gas rates and provide up to 75% carbon savings compared to gas heating.

The Minister said: “Improving the energy efficiency of homes is essential as we face up to the climate emergency and build a stronger, greener and fairer Wales.

“To get there, we need to think innovatively and ensure we meet our renewable energy needs of the future, so I’m looking forward to hearing what the Coal Authority discovers as part of their work.

“It’s very exciting that communities could be metres from a technology-ready alternative to traditional heating methods that could help us towards our journey to a Net Zero Wales by 2050.”

The Welsh Government has ambitious goals to make the entire public sector carbon neutral by 2030, and it is considered that heat from mine water could provide an alternative heating source for such entities.

Several modest pilot projects have already demonstrated the viability of this concept in the United Kingdom, with substantial development happening in the North East, where Gateshead Council hopes to activate its 3MW mine water heat network later this year.

Gareth Farr, Head of Heat and By-Product Innovation at the Coal Authority, added: 

“Mine water from disused coal mines can be used to support heat networks, providing secure, low-carbon heat to buildings.

“We look forward to working with the Welsh Government on this first-of-a-kind project to highlight the opportunity for such technology, creating a green future for Wales’ former coalmining areas.”


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