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Dutch City Opens World's First Mine Water Power Station

mine water plant

Last week, the Dutch city of Heerlen opened the world’s first geothermal power station that uses water heated in old coalmine shafts. The power station works by pumping water up from 800 meters deep in the mines. At that depth, the water reaches a temperature of 35 C (95 F). It heats 350 homes and is pumped back into the mines after use, where it recirculates two to three times a year.

Scientists working on the project say that it will produce 55 percent fewer CO2 emissions than a coal-fired power station. They are working on a carbon capture system for the geothermal power station— but such systems can take many years to get going.

The only major drawback to the project is that homes can only use the power station’s heat if they are close to the mines. But in old mining towns with lots of jobless residents, geothermal projects such as Heerlen’s could be just the thing to get the local economy moving.

Photo credit: The Minewater Project

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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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