Nurturing a new industry rooted in geoscience: stakeholder insights on minewater thermal in Scotland.

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Katherine Beth Deeming, Jen Dickie, Jen Roberts, Zoe Shipton


Heat decarbonisation is crucial for climate action and to transition towards a sustainable society. Abandoned, flooded mines can be used to provide low-carbon heating and cooling for buildings or as thermal energy storage for district heating networks. Despite the plentiful potential resource that legacy mining infrastructure offers, the current utilisation of minewater thermal resources in the UK and globally is low.
Through interviews with key industry stakeholders in Scotland, this study aimed to determine the level of awareness of this technology among stakeholders who require heat for their developments, and stakeholders who would be involved in the development or construction of such schemes. Low stakeholder awareness is particularly problematic for minewater thermal resources because, due to the nature of the infrastructure required, they are best considered at the earliest phase of a development project. It is important that developers are aware of the full range of low carbon heating solutions for their site, including geothermal and subsurface thermal storage, in order to implement the most sustainable solutions.
The interviews highlighted the current complexity of the minewater thermal landscape in the UK, reflecting the complexity of the wider decarbonisation of heat. Interviewees perceived a range of advantages of minewater thermal technology including its use as an inter-seasonal thermal store for district heating networks, and the co-location of minewater resources with heat demand. Perceived disadvantages included the high capital cost and pre-construction risks associated with determining the feasibility of the minewater resource. Broader systemic issues beyond minewater thermal included high electricity costs and skills gaps and labour shortages. Trust and confidence in the technology was seen as a key factor by interviewees. Here, we examine how geoscientists can address the issues of defining the resource, building trust, skills, community benefits, and reducing costs. For minewater to succeed, geoscientists have a key role to play in nurturing this nascent industry.



Engineering, Social and Behavioral Sciences


minewater, stakeholder perceptions, low-carbon heating, heat decarbonisation, sustainable geoscience, minewater geothermal, minewater thermal


Published: 2024-05-01 00:19

Last Updated: 2024-05-01 07:19


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
Raw interview transcripts are confidential.