Glasgow investigates geothermal potential of sub-city mines

Water in a network of abandoned mines underneath Glasgow could be used to generate up to 40% of the city’s heat.

ScottishPower is funding a research team at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to map the maze of abandoned tunnels which exist beneath the city.

Once the correct data has been gathered on the location of the underground water reservoirs, ground source heat pumps could be used to extract heat from the water.

The extracted energy would then be used for the heating of homes and businesses.

GCU’s geotechnical specialist Dr Nicholas Hytiris said: “After Hamburg and Stockholm, Glasgow could be the third city in the world to have under street heating. In three years’ time we will have a full and accurate record of what is going on beneath our feet and then we can go on from there.

“We believe this technology will in the long term be able to provide cheaper and more sustainable heating, which could be an answer to fuel poverty issues prevalent in many areas of Glasgow, particularly those with a mining past and a legacy of poor quality housing and high unemployment.”

One small city housing estate – Glenalmond Street in the East End – already uses geothermal energy and residents have heating bills of around £160 per year, compared with £660 for an average Scottish family.

Derek Drummond sustainable technology manager at ScottishPower, said: “The initial work around the Clyde Gateway regeneration area should allow a good understanding of the technical challenges involved in capturing this energy, and how it could be applied to other areas.

“It is important that we can fully understand how this energy will integrate with the electricity network, and we look forward to seeing the study develop.”

The British Geological Survey, has offered full access to its data including a unique 3D geological model of the city for the three-year duration of the project.

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie