£450k project to explore whether water from Wales’ disused coal mines could be used to heat homes
A new £450,000 project, backed by the Welsh Government, will explore whether water from disused mines has the potential to play a role in supplying Wales’ future energy needs.
Wales’ mines were crucial in firing up the industrial revolution, but once abandoned, the pumps that kept them dry were often switched off and the mines subsequently filled with water.
Climate Change Minister Julie James has confirmed the government’s support will allow the Coal Authority to investigate whether this water, which is heated by geological processes, could be used to heat homes, businesses and industry across Wales.
Sites will be mapped to give a high-level assessment of where the best potential lies, with more detailed feasibility studies carried out on those considered to have the most realistic likelihood to connect to existing buildings and new developments.
Approximately 40% of the energy used in Wales provides heat to homes, businesses and our industry.
Most of this heat comes from gas, but by 2025, there will be no gas connections in new build homes in Wales to support decarbonisation efforts.
Mine water is a low carbon, sustainable heat source, which could compete with public supply gas prices and deliver carbon savings of up to 75% compared to gas heating.
The Minister said: “Improving the energy efficiency of homes is essential as we front up to the climate emergency and build a stronger, greener and fairer Wales.
“To get there, we need to think innovatively and ensure we meet out renewable energy needs of the future, so I’m looking forward to hearing what the Coal Authority discover as part of their work.
“It’s very exciting that communities could be metres from a technology-ready alternative to traditional heating methods that could help us towards our journey to a Net Zero Wales by 2050.”
The Welsh Government has bold ambitions to see the entire public sector carbon neutral by 2030, and it is believed heat from mine water could provide such bodies an alternative solution to their current heating supply.
There have already been several small pilot schemes that have proved this concept in the UK, with significant development in the North East of England, where Gateshead Council hope to commission its 3MW mine water heat network later this year.
Gareth Farr, Head of Heat and By-Product Innovation at the Coal Authority added: “Mine water from disused coal mines can be used to support heat networks, providing secure, low carbon heat to buildings.
“We look forward to working with the Welsh Government on this first of a kind project to highlight the opportunity for such technology, creating a green future for Wales’ former coalmining areas.”
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