North East using its mining heritage to create Geothermal Green energy

As COP26 discusses cutting the use of coal across the globe, a site based in South Tyneside, has become the first in the UK to start drilling into old coal mines in order to extract flood water that can be used to produce geothermal energy.

The Hebburn site, run by Dunelm Geotechnical, currently has two boreholes digging hundreds of feet underground to extract sea water that has flooded the old mines.

Project manager Bryan Laycock said: "This green revolution, it’s moving fast and it feels great to be doing something new that could potentially reduce carbon footprint. We’re currently drilling two boreholes, an abstraction well and a re-injection well, so currently we’re on programme to finish drilling in the middle of December.

"After Christmas we will start a series of pump tests to work out the quantities of water we can take from the abstraction well with the aim of pumping about 40 litres per second."

The multi-million scheme in South Tyneside is aiming to reduce 319 tonnes of C02 each year.

The abandoned mines are flooded with sea water which is then heated by thermal energy from the earth and it will be pumped up to the surface and processed in a facility to produce greener energy. This can then provide homes and businesses with power or be converted into electricity. 

The leader of South Tyneside Council said it will initially produce energy for its own buildings to help the local authority reach its net zero targets.

Cllr Tracey Dixon said: "It’s going to source some of our properties in Hebburn, you know, Hebburn Central, council buildings as well as some high rise properties and this something that we could possibly roll out in future years, but currently it’s a starting base for us in South Tyneside."

Making use of the North East’s historic mining infrastructure, according to the Coal Authority, puts the region at the forefront of the green revolution.

Dr Charlotte Adams of The Coal Authority, said: "The North East has really been a great exemplar of what can be done and we’ve got the local authorities declaring climate emergencies and also the climate changes that we’ve observed so there’s different drivers now for doing it, which means I think there’s a lot more support and hopefully we’ll see a lot more movement in this."