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Sat September 25 2021

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Drilling begins at Glasgow geothermal research site

12 Dec 18 Drilling is now under way for the first borehole at a pioneering geothermal energy research site in Glasgow.

A 7.2m-high drilling rig broke ground, marking the beginning of the 15-year research investment. Over the next 15 months, the drilling team will create 12 boreholes of various depths, which will enable research into Glasgow’s geology, its underground water systems and the potential for heat from the water in the city’s disused coal mines.

The UK Geoenergy Observatory for Glasgow is one of two sites in a £31m initiative commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated by the British Geological Survey (BGS). Ramboll is supporting the BGS with multidisciplinary services through all phases of the project.

One of the key aims of the project is to find out whether there is a long-term sustainable mine water resource that could provide a low-cost, low-carbon heat source for homes and businesses.

Measurements will be taken, such as temperature, water movement and water chemistry. Environmental baseline monitoring of near-surface chemistry, gases and waters will also be measured.

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“Clean growth and innovation go hand in hand, so as part of our modern industrial strategy we’re investing £31 million into projects like this which could transform derelict coal mines into valuable low carbon sources of energy,” said Lord Henley, the undersecretary of state at the UK government’s Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. “Reusing deep mineshafts could help to reinvigorate local economies, creating new high-skilled jobs and boosting supply chains in traditional mining communities."

Tracy Shimmield, co-director of the Lyell Centre, BGS Scotland said: “The British Geological Survey will operate the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site, which will enable the UK and countries around the world to better understand how our industrial legacies can be turned into renewable heat sources. “The observatory will tell us how much heat is down there, whether it can be sustainably used and replenished, and if it could power homes, businesses or even entire cities. “This is the first time that this part of the Earth will be monitored closely and consistently.”

Professor Zoe Shipton, professor of geological engineering at the University of Strathclyde and chair of the UK Geoenergy Observatories science advisory group, said: “The UK Geoenergy Observatories will build up a high-resolution picture of the underground system, providing a breakthrough in our understanding. This hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world. What we learn in Glasgow will lead the way in understanding how to balance our need for resources, with keeping people safe and protecting our environment.

The BGS will make data from the Glasgow observatory available online from 2019.  

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