Combined Heat & Power

Demand Side Services

Energy Efficiency

Heat Networks

New subsurface facilities for mine water thermal energy investigation

2 July 2021

The new UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow provides at-scale, instrumented borehole infrastructure to enable practical investigation of mine water thermal energy abstraction and storage. The subsurface infrastructure is largely complete. Additional top-side infrastructure to provide the capability to investigate heat transfer will be installed in early 2022.

The UK government through the Plan for Growth: Science and Innovation (2014) has invested £31 million for the UK Geoenergy Observatories programme. This investment includes the design and build of two new underground UK Geoenergy Observatories (in Glasgow and Cheshire).  The new subsurface facilities will support the technology development in the clean energy transition on the road to net zero.

The first of these new facilities, the UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow provides at-scale infrastructure to enable practical investigation in coal mine-water thermal energy abstraction and storage.

Technology developers and innovators can trial their equipment for mine water heat abstraction and storage in 12 instrumented boreholes installed in and around flooded mine workings. The Glasgow Observatory does not need to meet the energy needs of customers, which provides much greater flexibility in terms of the types of trial that can be undertaken.

The Glasgow Observatory will help stakeholders in the geothermal energy supply chain understand geological constraints around mine water heat, so that technological solutions can be developed or improved to support a sustainable way of heating homes and businesses in our cities.

The Observatory has been developed to operate for 15+ years so that investigators can explore topics such as any long-term effects of energy abstraction and storage on groundwater circulation patterns and thermal energy transfers on the subsurface environment. Investigators can also explore the wider short-term and long-term regulatory questions in the shallow geothermal energy space.

The Glasgow Observatory is open for academic and commercial communities and enables cross-disciplinary investigation. The new Glasgow Observatory brochure  explains more about the facility and also provides information on how you can use it in your research and development activities. Further information can be provided by contacting ukgeosenquiries@bgs.ac.uk.

ADE Newsletter