COWI in the UK experts have joined forces with a team of academics from Strathclyde University and DTU, and entrepreneurs from SCALGO, to address some of the most substantial barriers to using low-temperature geothermal sources for space heating.
In moderate to cold (excluding polar) climates, space heating is associated with approximately 30% to 50% of the overall carbon footprint. With this in mind, it’s clear that a green transition in such places will not be achieved without serious consideration given to such large contributors.
This unique Innovation Ecosystem will utilise decades of minewater data from The Coal Authority to produce a digital tool which can accurately predict the behaviour of both the natural and built system components. The importance of such a development lies in the lack of clear understanding of heat behaviour in underground environments, and consequently the lack of clear policy in regulating heat in a sustainable manner. A model that can be used for systematic prediction of performance under changing circumstances is key to making sustainable decisions, while allowing for a future energy solution to flourish with public and private investment.
The data will be meticulously analysed using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to identify complex patterns of corelation. The model will also benefit from the latest updates to numerical analysis methods in groundwater flow and transport.
The United Kingdom offers an exceptionally suitable set of conditions for this project due to the availability of the resource within flooded, abandoned mine tunnels and shafts. Moreover, these flooded mineworkings underly nine out of the 10 largest cities in the UK and as such, are very close to the end users.
This work will make it possible to build and regulate several adjacent local systems without undermining the natural process of re-charging to ambient temperatures. In addition, outlining the governing factors in heat transfer behaviour will help assess usability of groundwater as a long-term heat storage solution. More resilient heat sources are an integral part of the future energy landscape.
The findings of this work will be advantageous to design consultants, policymakers, and investors but more importantly, this will act as an enabler in our collective efforts to save our blue-green planet.