Alkane Energy and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK will jointly conduct a study to find out how low-cost renewable energy could be harnessed from disused, flooded coal mines.
The programme will explore how water in abandoned mines could provide an eco-friendly energy source and address the challenge of supplying low-carbon heating and cooling in the UK.
It is believed that the relatively high and consistent temperature of water in disused coal mines makes it suitable for both heating and cooling purposes efficiently.
Project supervisor Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh explained: "The extraction of water from disused mine workings and exploitation of its latent energy for heating and cooling applications, through heat exchangers and heat pump technologies, could provide a significant level of energy."
"With an estimated one billion cubic metres of flooded void space underground in the UK across many urban and industrialised areas, the potential for this project is huge," Al-Habaibeh added.
Alkane Energy project director Keith Parker said the company has secured exclusive agreements from Britain's Coal Authority to access coal mines for the project.
"The initial agreements cover a total area of over 30 km²," Parker added. "Recent work by British Geological survey suggests this area of workings may typically deliver 600GWh per year of renewable heat resource.
"If this potential can be successfully exploited it will represent a significant new business stream to Alkane. Initial modelling suggests up to 40% improvements in energy consumption and emissions should be achievable."
The collaboration between the two organisation was initially established through NTU's Future Factory project, and has now been extended to a two-year investigation through a knowledge transfer partnership funded by the Technology Strategy Board.
Image: The two-year project will study how to harness untapped green energy from disused coal-mines. Photo: courtesy of Unk.