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Giant heating system at eco-village

A pioneering plan for a giant central heating system to harness heat from deep underground is being developed in County Durham.

Scientists and engineers led by Newcastle University plan a twin borehole system to allow continual cycling of warm groundwater through rocks up to 1,000m deep.

Water at around 30°C will be brought to the surface and passed through a heat exchanger before being sent back underground for reheating.

Renewable, clean energy will be provided for homes and businesses in the planned Eastgate eco-village in Weardale, complementing four other forms of renewable energy to be harnessed there.

Maintaining pressure

“By re-injecting water using a second borehole we are able to maintain the natural water pressures in the rocks and allow pumping to continue for many decades,” said project leader Professor Paul Younger, of Newcastle University.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is providing £461,000 to drill a reinjection borehole to complement the 995m deep exploration borehole drilled three years ago and there are plans to prepare the existing borehole for long-term pumping service.

Used water reintroduced to the granite about 420m down will reheat as it flows through a maze of fractures on its way back to the pumping borehole.

The system can produce an almost carbon-neutral source of energy, said Prof Younger.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Very interesting. The major question is how much will it cost per Kw hour of energy produced over its projected lifespan. I hope this compares well with nuclear and wind. Will secondary heat sources be provided to cope with downtime?

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  • May be it can produce energy sufficiency for many decades.But isn't it something like cooling some part of inner earth than surroundings ?? and if so , what can be the consequences ? Did they study such things?? or is it not that important thing??

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  • As they do mention here, and is standard for most geothermal heating systems, excess heat is returned to the rocks and in summer the unit is 'reversed' to perform an air conditioning role thus mainaining temperature equilibrium.
    Initially the costs per KH/h are higer but if you factored in the rising cost of any fuel reliant systems over the design life then the current examples provide better value for money.

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