Researchers dig deep to assess city’s heating potential
A NETWORK of abandoned mine workings underneath Glasgow could be the key to a unique sustainable heating project.
Scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University are preparing to investigate the possibility of using the subterranean tunnels containing reservoirs of water to heat homes and streets in the city.
Researchers have secured funding from Scottish Power to map the maze of abandoned tunnels in a scheme that could replicate the success of a similar project in the East End.
Glenalmond Street housing estate already uses geothermal energy and residents have heating bills of around £160 per year, as compared to £660 for an average Scottish family.
GCU’s Dr Nicholas Hytiris, a geotechnical specialist in the university’s Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology Research, said once the correct data has been gathered on the location of the underground water reservoirs, special ground source heat pumps could be used to extract heat from the water. The extracted energy would then be used for heating homes or offices.
He said: “After Hamburg and Stockholm, Glasgow could be the third city in the world to have understreet 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.”
The project will initially focus on the Clyde Gateway regeneration area but will grow to encompass several other parts of Glasgow with a mining history.
World leading geoscience centre, the British Geological Survey, has offered full access to its data including a 3D geological model of the city for the three-year duration of the project.
A representative from Scottish Power, Ciaran Higgins, and from the British Geological Survey, Diarmad Campbell, will act as industrial co-supervisors for the project.
Derek Drummond, sustainable technology manager at Scottish Power, said: “This is an excellent project that could prove to be very beneficial for the city and its residents, and we are pleased to be supporting the study.
“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.”
Experts working with Dr Hytiris include Dr Rohinton Emmanuel, a reader in sustainable design and construction who has expertise in urban climate change, and Bjorn Aaen, a former technical advisor and a former group leader to Glasgow City Council.
Dr Caroline Gallagher, senior lecturer at GCU and geographical information systems specialist, will assist in an advisory capacity. The project will be carried out by GCU graduate Emma Church, as part of her PhD research, funded in part by the School of Engineering and Built Environment and Scottish Power.
Aaen, whose original vision initiated interest in this field a number of years ago from his knowledge of Glasgow’s geology and mining history, added: “We’re confident that utilising this technology properly will lead to a large energy saving for thousands of Glaswegians.”