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Turning coal mines into hot water mines

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By Olly Rose
19 Oct 2021

To beat the climate crisis, we need to be clever in the way we use the green energy that’s all around us. How can we take what’s already there and harness it to keep the lights on, charge our cars, cook our food and keep us warm?

Geothermal power has a huge potential and the amazing thing is that we’ve already got a lot of the infrastructure in place. Here’s our founder, Dale Vince, writing in the Daily Express newspaper about how abandoned coal mines can help us heat our homes:

“We talked about Geothermal recently, a new source of energy - not new to the world, just to Britain. It’s right under our feet, constantly on - zero carbon electricity, with Lithium as a by-product. It has a lot to offer, I described it as two birds under one stone.
But actually there are three.

Because there are two kinds of Geothermal energy and both solve different problems. One uses very hot water from deep underground to make electricity - and the other uses (less) hot water from less deep down - which we can use simply to heat our homes. And we don’t even have to drill for that.

Heating our homes is a big challenge in our transition to a zero carbon economy, we have to replace the fossil gas that does that for us now. Our government are focussed on heat pumps and the banning of gas boilers - we highlighted the problems with that in the Express recently. But heat pumps of a different kind, used in a different way - have a lot to offer.

A recent study shows that a quarter of Britons live above old coal mines, so what? Well these coal mines are flooded with hot water - not hot enough to make electricity but more than hot enough for a different kind of heat pump (water source not air source) and the heat extracted could be provided to local homes in a different way, using district heat networks (like gas networks but delivering hot water). Water source heat pumps are more efficient than air source but if you can run them on hot water… it gets even better.

Using old coal mines to heat our homes would be rather ironic, given the role of coal in driving the climate crisis. And a great piece of upcycling - from abandoned mine to source of low carbon heating - almost poetic. It would also help us become energy independent. The cost of this heat could be as constant as the temperature underground - we can be detached from the roller coaster global market price - which is right now causing so much harm to our economy.

Geothermal is right under our feet - we can use it to make heat and electricity for our homes, with zero carbon and zero price fluctuation. And we get an indigenous source of Lithium, a vital element in the green economy - thrown in. Three birds under one stone.”

Green energy is winning the argument at every level.

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