Geothermal Energy from Mines and Solar Geothermal Heat

Welcome to GEMS
A Research Collaboration

Geothermal Energy from Mines and Solar Geothermal Heat (GEMS) is a Durham Energy Institute (DEI) interdisciplinary project exploring whether water from flooded, abandoned mines could be used as a low-carbon, geothermal source of heat for the UK’s homes, led by Professor Jeroen van Hunen (Earth Sciences).


It has been estimated that there is enough heat within the UK’s coalfields to meet the demands of all the buildings that lie over them.

It could therefore particularly benefit economically disadvantaged former mining communities.

Durham Energy Institute is renowned for tackling the decarbonisation transition in a holistic way, integrating the social, scientific and engineering sciences to produce innovative insights and solutions.

The research team includes experts from the University’s Business School, Earth Sciences, Engineering and Anthropology departments, brought together through DEI.

The team will work with the British Geological Survey (BGS) and industrial and governmental experts to assess and address the technical, social, and financial challenges and risks of exploiting disused, flooded coal mines as a source for long-term sustainable heat for homes and businesses in the UK.

The project combines novel simulation tools, innovative heat storage solutions, thorough evaluation of the governance and economic landscape, and community participation, this interdisciplinary project will provide integrated solutions, from initial heat extraction to the end user, for maximising mine water geothermal heat energy.

Our Partners

Led and managed by
Durham University

Partnered by UK
Research and Innovation

Co-managed by
British Geological Survey

Partnered by
The Coal Authority

Our Research

The GEMS team will be using the BGS run UK Geoenergy Observatory, Glasgow, a £31m investment by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

12 boreholes drilled into flooded mine workings and equipped with a range of sensor systems providing essential data.

Meet the team

Professor Jeroen van Hunen
Department of Earth Sciences
(Project lead)

Professor Stefan Nielsen
Department of Earth Sciences

Dr Stuart Jones
Department of Earth Sciences

Professor Tony Riskilly

Professor Tony Roskilly
Department of Engineering

Contact us

For further information about GEMS, please contact Prof. Jeroen van Hunen (, or the GEMS administration (


Department of Earth Sciences
Science Labs
Lower Mountjoy
South Road