Minewater Geothermal Projects


Fortissat Community Minewater Geothermal Retrofit District Heating Network

The Fortissat ward in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, composed of Shotts, Allanton and Hartwood typifies a central belt ex-coal-mining community. The coal mining legacy extends back 150 years, and the largest mine, the Kingshill colliery, extends to just over 500m depth.

The aim of the feasibility study, completed between July 2015 and February 2016, was to assess the feasibility and define initial strategy to develop Scotland’s first minewater geothermal scheme in over 15 years, in a semi-rural area with social deprivation. While focussed on the specifics of the location, the project is conceived as a readily replicable and fully operational minewater geothermal district heating system demonstrator project that would act as proof of concept for UK-wide duplication.

The study also addresses the complex technical and stakeholder management issues associated with development of a community district heating system within a varied portfolio of existing accommodation held under mixed tenure rather than new build housing scenario.

TownRock Energy was acting Project Manager for the delivery of the £50,000 feasibility study, inputting technical expertise wherever required and drawing on six subcontractors to generate the final report.

The full report with supporting maps, diagrams and appendices can be viewed and downloaded here

This report was funded through the Scottish Governments Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund. The project is currently under review by the Scottish Governments Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and North Lanarkshire Council.


Polkemmet New-build Minewater Geothermal Social-housing District Heating Network

The Polkemmet mine in West Lothian is one of the largest coal mines in Scotland, extending to 800m depth, and is actively pumped to prevent surface minewater leakage.

Funding was awarded from the Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund in June 2015 to establish the feasibility of a demonstration project supplying geothermal heat from an existing minewater treatment works at Polkemmet mine to a small heat network serving proposed new social housing adjacent to the Heartlands development at Whitburn. Unfortunately, shortly after the grant was awarded, uncertainty around the ownership of the site and therefore progression of the development led to the grant being retracted.

TownRock Energy are still pursuing this as our team and partners understand this is one of the best opportunities to establish a major minewater geothermal district heating network in Scotland.


Grangemouth Minewater District Heating Network

The Grangemouth area in Falkirk is the largest industrial site in Scotland, with abundant sources of heat demand and waste heat from the refinery, chemicals plant, and numerous other industrial and commercial buildings.

TownRock Energy were commissioned by Synergie Environ and Mace in 2015 to undertake a GIS-based heat mapping study for the housing stock in the area, and worked with the team to design three conceptual district heating networks for the area. A multitude of renewable and non-renewable heat sources on the network were tested for economic viability, and the most profitable technology was a minewater geothermal system drawing heat from a 600m deep coal mine which extends beneath the Firth of Forth. The system was projected to return a 15% IRR on a £18m capex.

The report is currently sitting with the clients, Falkirk Council and Scottish Enterprise.


Hot Sedimentary Aquifer (HSA) Geothermal Projects


Guardbridge Low-carbon Innovation Centre HSA Geothermal Heat Network

The University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, are developing the derelict Guardbridge paper mill site into a low-carbon and sustainability innovation centre. This includes a £25m investment in a 6.5MW biomass heat centre and district heating network to provide heat to the North Haugh campus, which will become operational in 2017.

The site overlies the lower Carboniferous which contains the most productive aquifer sands in Scotland’s central belt. In 2015 TownRock Energy and partners evaluated the viability of producing 35°C water from 1000m depth, and have modelled the geology and scoped three conceptual well designs. The proposed system design can provide very low carbon heat to the Guardbridge site whilst making a profit.

The report, funded by the Scottish Governments Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund, can be viewed and downloaded in full here

A second phase of funding was secured from the LCITP over the summer of 2016 to complete a seismic survey of the site and refine the geological model and well designs. The team aim to source funding for the geothermal well in 2017, to make Guardbridge the first HSA geothermal demonstrator project in Scotland.


Granite (EGS) Geothermal Projects


Hill of Banchory Geothermal Energy Project

In partnership with Cluff Geothermal and the Hill of Banchory ESCO and other partners, TownRock Energy evaluated the potential for producing 75 – 90°C water from 2 – 3 km’s depth in the Hill of Fare granite pluton in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The hot water would be providing supplementary heat into the Hill of Banchory district heating network which currently utilises a biomass heat centre.

TownRock Energy provided a risk register and mitigation strategy, and collected a new suite of thermal conductivity data from surface outcrops by use of the Divided Bar tool housed at the company’s laboratory in St Andrews.

The report demonstrated technological feasibility, although with a significant degree of uncertainty in the productivity of the pluton at depth due to lack of local deep borehole data. The entire feasibility study can be viewed and downloaded at

Unfortunately, the cost of heat supply from the geothermal resource was estimated to be higher than the current cost of heat from the biomass heat centre, due to local arrangements with biomass fuel suppliers. The project may be reopened in the future following an expansion in the heat network, or a rise in the cost of biomass.

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