Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site

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

View over the Cuningar Loop, looking east towards Glasgow city centre. Borehole locations (numbered) are indicated by green and purple arrows (Photo reproduced with permission of Clyde Gateway URC).

Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council have approved plans to develop this world class geothermal research observatory in the east end of the city. Work has started in (November 2018).

Check progress

The research at the Observatory aims to contribute to an understanding of the potential for warm water in disused coal mines to be used for renewable heat.

The Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site will enable the UK science community to study the geothermal environment just below the Earth's surface.

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.

The field site will feature a number of boreholes of various depths, which will enable research into the area’s geology, underground water systems and the potential for mine water geothermal heat. Measurements will be taken from the boreholes, such as temperature, water movement and water chemistry. Environmental baseline monitoring of near-surface chemistry, gases and waters will also be measured. The research will be carried out over an extended period of time, around 15 years.

The observatory will be open to the whole of the UK science community to undertake research. Continuous data from state-of-the-art sensors from the boreholes will be open, free and accessible to the public, government, regulators, academia, and industry via an online portal.

Why investigate this?

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.

For example, 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 allow us to research whether or not energy schemes can be scaled, run sustainably long term, and investigate solutions for 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.

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.

Scientific information pack

Please note that in the information below all designs, infrastructure, kit, data to be collected are subject to change.

The information within these pages is from the following citable reference:

Monaghan, A A, Starcher, V, Ó Dochartaigh, B, Shorter, K and Burkin, J. 2018. UK Geoenergy Observatories: Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site - science infrastructure. UKGEOS Report G0100, British Geological Survey Open Report OR/18/037, Nottingham, UK, 46pp. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/521444/

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 the UK Geoenergy Observatories?
Research field site
What's beneath the Clyde Gateway?
What will the scientists be trying to find out?
What will the research field site look like?
What are boreholes and how are they used?
Getting heat from the ground and using minewater for heating.
Collecting and sharing data

Contact

For more information, please use the UK Geoenergy Observatories contact form.