Construction on a ground breaking development in County Durham is set to begin in spring, and will become the UK’s first district heating scheme to utilise mine water energy.
The Seaham Garden Village development will consist of 750 affordable homes, 750 private homes, a school, shops, and medical and innovation centres. The scheme is in close proximity to existing commercial buildings, a supermarket and the coastal village of Seaham, with a population of circa 21,000.The new development will be supplied with geothermal heat from the Coal Authority’s nearby Dawdon mine water treatment scheme, which treats water abstracted from an extensive network of flooded abandoned coal mines in the area.
Mine heat can be an energy source that is unaffected by external factors, meaning it has a stable price and is not subject to future variations or rises in energy prices.
It is a renewable energy source that also has the potential to have a zero carbon footprint.
The Coal Authority, a government body, is committed to creating a better future from the UK’s mining past, including managing many mine water treatment schemes across Britain. It estimates there could be enough energy in the UK’s flooded, abandoned mines to heat all of the homes on the coalfields.
With one quarter of UK homes and businesses sited on former coalfields, mine water energy could be seen as crucial to when it comes to solving Britain’s energy crisis, with Seaham Garden Village potentially the first of many similar schemes.
“Heat from abandoned coal mines is an innovative and practical solution to one of the big challenges facing our economy – decarbonising our heating supplies,” said Jeremy Crooks, Head of Innovation at the Coal Authority. “There would be wider benefits to this sustainable energy source too, as it would also attract new investment, create employment and deliver lower fuel bills to Seaham Garden Village and to other district heating schemes to be built on the coalfields.”
“The abandoned coal mines in the UK present an enormous opportunity to us as a source of geothermal energy.”