Project designer for £7m council minewater district heating project set to heat “fuel-poor homes” was appointed last week.
Coal mines that have lain dormant for more than 80 years in North East England are set to be given a new lease of life thanks to an ambitious renewable energy scheme expected to cut hundreds of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Plans for a £7m district heating scheme scheme, unveiled last month, are set to tap geothermal energy from the flooded underground pits and passages of the former Hebburn Colliery east of Newcastle to heat buildings owned by South Tyneside Council.
South Tyneside Council confirmed yesterday that the scheme's designer was appointed last week, with further details set to be revealed in mid-May, following a 10-day post-tender standstill period.
Joan Atkinson, South Tyneside councillor and lead member for area management and consumer safety, said the project - one of the first mine water district heating projects in the UK - would slash the Council's carbon emissions while boosting the energy performance of council-owned buildings.
"[The scheme] is expected to deliver a reduction of 319 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, which will make it a key component in our drive to make the council carbon neutral by 2030," she said. "It will also help us meet our obligations to upgrade the energy performance of fuel-poor homes as it will be used to heat one of the town's residential high-rise blocks."
The minewater heating system would be powered entirely by clean energy, she added, using "locally-generated electricity using solar panels".
The council explained that water will be extracted from the flooded mines through drilled vertical boreholes of up to 300 metres in depth. Pilot boreholes will soon be made in order to establish the project's feasibility and inform the designs, it added.
A water-source heat pump installed at the project's energy centre, likely to be in Hebburn town centre, will then extract the heat from the mine water and compress it to a much higher temperature before distributing it across the district heat network. Cooled water will then be returned to the mine workings.
The project, which has preliminary approval for £3.5m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund, is being developed with the Coal Authority and Durham University.
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