£1.6m for coal mines study

A STUDY to test the potential for former coal mines to be used to heat homes has been given £1.6 million in funding.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris announced the study, backed by the government’s Coal Authority and Historic England, to see if water warmed naturally deep underground in old mine workings by geological activity can be brought to the surface to provide viable domestic heat.

The process would involve using pumps to raise the temperature to the level required for heating and hot water.

In 2022 South Gloucestershire Council said it was investigating the potential use of former mine workings in the district, including mines around Lyde Green, Emersons Green and south of Staple Hill, which had been identified as “areas of interest” by the Coal Authority.

Mr Norris, who comes from a mining family, backs the idea, and says there is the potential to heat more than 100,000 homes in the region, where almost a quarter sit above once-thriving coal mines flooded with water.

He said: “I love the idea that coal mines could be repurposed to provide the clean energy of the future – it’s coming full circle.

The study will map the mine areas which have the greatest potential heat resource, leading to detailed ground investigation works.

Coal Authority head of heat Gareth Farr said: “The Coal Authority is committed to facilitating mine water heat networks across Great Britain.  

“We hope that the industrial heritage of coal mining in the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority will also be able to support mine water heat networks in the future.”

Mr Norris promoted the idea at a recent session of the Energy Security and Net Zero Select Committee’s “heating our homes” inquiry in the House of Commons.

He told MPs: “There is a nice irony in it, because since the mining industry contributed so greatly to CO2 emissions, it would be lovely to get something positive about the climate emergency, which is a huge problem and one we can’t roll back on.”

Mr Norris also backed the idea of using the Severn Estuary’s vast tidal power to help solve the energy crisis at the session in January.

Mining magnate’s 200th birthday: Page 18