Geothermal Energy In Scotland

A new survey carried out by WWF Scotland has revealed that the Scottish public want strong policies in the Climate Change Bill to help cut emissions and become more energy sustainable.

75% of those polled think that the government should invest more in improving the energy efficiency of homes across the country, up from 67% last year. Around 68% of people want to see higher investments to reduce emissions, like cleaner public transport and low carbon heat networks, another significant rise from the 2016 figure of 59%.

Renewable energy also received a boost with 71% stating that more electricity should be generated from renewable sources a rise of 10% from 2016.

The WWF said the results should encourage the Scottish Government to use the forthcoming Climate Change Bill to implement the policies and investments the public want to see happen.

Sarah Beattie-Smith, Climate and Energy Policy Officer at WWF Scotland, said: “We believe the forthcoming Climate Change Bill is can help to create jobs, improve public health and reduce poverty at home, whilst also ensuring Scotland plays its part in helping the poorest people in the world cope with the effects of climate change. These survey results should give politicians of all parties the confidence to be ambitious and take the steps needed to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous society.”

While the Scottish public wants more investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy The British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main funding body for earth sciences, have unveiled plans to investigate the true scope of recovering heat from water trapped deep underground in abandoned mines in a pioneering new project that will be based either in the east end of Glasgow or in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire.

Glasgow and neighbouring South Lanarkshire both have a long history of coal mining and while that industry is long gone the remnants of it remain throughout the region with a network of disused mine shafts still in place. It’s these that experts believe could hold the key to what is a potentially substantial resource of green energy sourced from geothermal energy. Geothermal has advantages over other renewable energy sources as it is able to provide baseline power since it doesn’t rely on the sun shining, the wind blowing or the tide going in and out.

Two small-scale experiments using ground source heat pumps to tap warm water collected in defunct mines in Shettleston in Glasgow and Lumphinnans in Fife have already proved successful.

The proposed Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site is one of two such schemes being put forward as part of the £31 million UK Geoenergy Observatories Project the other being in England.

The BGS archive hosts extensive records of mining and oil and gas exploration and with the addition of new information garnered from these new projects will help those involved better understand the impact of exploiting geothermal energy in this way and to establish whether it can be a viable, cost-effective and sustainable addition to the renewables sector.

One of the proposed projects, in Glasgow’s Clyde Gateway area, involves the creation of a number of boreholes of depths up to 170m that will allow scientists to explore the area’s geology and underground water systems. Water temperature, movement and chemistry will be tested, with data continuing to be monitored and assessed over the next 25 years. Studies will also be carried out to determine whether gathering geothermal energy could potentially cause earthquakes, as has happened with fracking, or lead to water pollution.

Also on the agenda is testing whether the mine network is linked and whether tapping water at one site might affect supplies contained in a shaft elsewhere. If the project gains all the necessary planning consents, drilling work is expected to begin at the chosen site next year.

The West of Scotland is littered with disused mines, particularly in the Lanarkshire and Glasgow areas. Along with shipbuilding it was once one the prominent industries of the area. To create a positive clean energy use for some of the sites would be a wonderful addition to the country’s growing renewable energy portfolio.

Projects like these will go a long way in securing the renewable energy and energy efficient future that the Scottish people crave. However there is potential for more and as the machinery and materials required for these types of developments become both less expensive and more efficient we can hopefully expect more innovation in the future.

It is our hope that one day we reach a point where we do not need more renewable energy developments because we have reached a point where we are generating enough for everyone with a surplus to sell on. We are not there yet, but who says we can’t achieve it.

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