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Introduction to our Research

The research team is further strengthened by the following national and international project partners that will form the Advisory Board of the project, and that bring a wealth of complementary expertise and data to the project.

The Coal Authority (supporting the project with mine data and detailed knowledge of the mines and regulatory procedures), Mijnwater BV in Heerlen, the Netherlands, which executes the most successful mine geothermal district heating project in the world.

Durham County Council, which executes a number of mine geothermal projects, and forms an essential bridge between academia, industry and local communities.

Clyde Gateway, Scotland’s biggest regeneration programme supporting the UKGEOS site, Glacier Energy, as key industrial provider providing valuable insight and support on sorption energy technical and logistical aspects.

Lanchester Wines, a pioneer in MWGH in County Durham, providing essential operational data to calibrate numerical models, and technical/logistical experience, and Geoenergy Durham, presently operating a £7M MWGH project from the Hebburn colliery to provide district heating to South Tyneside.

Work Packages

Work Package 1

Led by Professor Jeroen Van Hunen and will assess Long-term sustainability of mine water heat extraction : Numerical modelling of mine water flow and heat exchange between the subsurface and mine water will be used to assess whether and under which conditions a mine system can provide long-term heat supply.

Model reliability depends on the accuracy of local mine data, appropriate modelling software, and model calibration with experimental data. This research will apply those models to prospective production sites.

Work Package 2

Led by Dr Zhiwei Ma will assess Solar-geothermal heat storage : This research deals with the technology and logistical measures to ensure MWGH projects meet heating demands.

It will develop innovative solar-geothermal dual storage systems based on a sorption heat pump cycle that utilises 15-20°C mine water to deliver hot water that meets consumer demands.

Work Package 3

Led by Professor Simone Abram will assess: WP3. Political economy and Community to Policy Value of MWGH This research addresses the governance, investment and narratives associated with MWGH, how it can contribute to a ‘just’ energy transition31 through studying its socio-economic value and the impact of government policies. Given the divergent legal and governance frameworks across the UK, WP3 focuses on England and Wales.

Findings will be tested against a detailed study on County Durham as a framework for analysis of regulation, financial structures and public understanding of MWGH, with a comparative case study area in the South Wales former coalfields, where MWGH is being developed.

Project objectives

The main project aim is 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 extraction and storage for homes and businesses in the UK.

Within this overarching aim, we have a number of specific objectives. In particular, we will:

  1. Assess the geothermal resource and its sustainability using innovative, state-of-the-art simulations, calibrated with mine records, monitoring data, field experiments, and citizen knowledge.
  2. Develop novel heat storage solutions by integrating sorption storage with underground storage to meet fluctuating consumer heat demand and boost long-term performance of MWGH extraction.
  3. Seek to understand the socio-economic impacts of MWGH from community to policy level, using case study examples.
  4. Address all these interconnected aspects of MWGH with an integrated, interdisciplinary approach.