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Geothermal Could Provide 40% Of Glasgow’s Heat

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city with nearly 600,000 people. Recently, scientists have stated that 40% of Glasgow’s heating needs could come from geothermal power located in local abandoned coal mine shafts. There are many such mines throughout the country, and some of them are located deep enough below ground level that they have accumulated water. This water is warm enough it can be pumped up to heat buildings and homes.

Image Credit: Kim Traynor, Wiki Commons

Image Credit: Kim Traynor, Wiki Commons

The British Geological Survey has helped map the collection of mine shafts described as extensive, in order to identify which ones contain the warmer bodies of water. Fifty meters has been referenced as a potentially feasible depth, because the shallower mines may be unstable, and it is necessary to go deep enough to find water warm enough to use.

“At these levels, the temperature doesn’t tend to vary with the seasons. You don’t have to go very deep into the ground to find water with a temperature that remains stable all year round,” explained Glasgow Caledonian University researcher Bjørn Aaen. (Source: Science Omega)

Installing a heat pump in the UK can cost £10,000-£15,000 per home, which may be too expensive for many, but for larger buildings they can be more economical because they provide heat for more people and can do so for twenty to twenty-five years. Heat pumps are already popular in Sweden, so the technology is well-known and proven.

Scotland has aggressive renewable energy goals — 50% of its electricity by 2015, and 100% by 2020.

These goals are not only aggressive, they are also exciting and one could argue it is necessary to generate some excitement around moving away from fossil fuels to make the transition more feasible, because we all need to change if we are going to reduce the impact of climate change on all species.

Having such a large portion of Glasgow’s heat provided by a renewable source would most likely be a very good of way demonstrating the benefits of geothermal energy, when solar and wind seem to be getting most of the press. Geothermal seems to suffer due to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem, but it is a better renewable energy source, depending on where it is located and how it is developed.

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