Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site

Borehole core

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the BGS want to create a £9 million UK Geoenergy Observatory to study low-temperature geothermal energy from the flooded mine workings below Glasgow.

Eastern Glasgow was once the location of some of Scotland's busiest coal mines. The eventual closure of the mines led to them becoming naturally flooded with water that is about 12°C. We would drill between 20 and 30 observation boreholes to monitor this environment for many years to come.

Why investigate it?

We need to understand underground processes so that we can benefit from and protect underground resources. Geothermal energy could provide a low-cost, low-carbon heat source. However, the geothermal industry has a number of challenges.

To understand the potential for geothermal heat from mine water, we need to know how quickly warm water is replenished and what minerals are in the water. Without answers to these questions, it is impossible to say how much energy could be extracted, or how many homes and businesses could use it.

A scheme in Shettleston in Glasgow provides for a small number of homes, and a much larger scheme is running in Heerlen in the Netherlands. The Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site will tell us whether or not energy schemes like those in Shettleston and Heerlen could be scaled up for a larger area and avoid problems, such as clogging up of pipes.

The research facility will also help scientists answer questions about heat storage in summer and tell us precisely what effects there are at the surface, if any.

World-class research site

This aims to be a world-class research site that would attract leading geothermal scientists and engineers. The knowledge, expertise and technology generated from this investment will be exportable to other areas. Around the UK, The Coal Authority datasets show flooded mine workings that could provide an energy source in other densely populated areas. Many other countries around the globe will also be interested in research at the site.

Technical briefing

Over 120 people from the science, technology and local stakeholder communities attended a technical briefing in Dalmarnock, Glasgow, on Tuesday 5 September 2017 to find out more about our plans for the site. The briefing included a series of presentations from Mike Stephenson from the BGS, Prof Zoe Shipton from the University of Strathclyde, and Bo Iwanskyj from The Coal Authority. Their presentations were filmed and can be viewed here.

Public exhibition

An open drop-in event was held on Tuesday 5 September 2017, in Dalmarnock, Glasgow, to give the public an opportunity to find out all about our plans for the geothermal energy research field site. Scientists and staff from the BGS were on hand to answer questions and explain the significance of the proposed research. The exhibition materials are provided here for your information.

What are UKGEOS?
Research field site
Clyde Gateway
Collecting and sharing data
What next?

More information

Information on the geological characterisation, hydrogeology, borehole arrays and research questions will be uploaded at the earliest opportunity.


For more information, please contact the UK Geoenergy Observatories project team.