A PROJECT to examine whether water from disused Welsh mines could be used to provide heating has been awarded £450,000. 

The Welsh Government has provided the Coal Authority with funding to investigate whether the water, heated by geological processes, could be used to heat homes, businesses and industry across Wales. 

Pumps used to keep mines dry while in operation were often switched off once they closed, meaning the pits filled with water and their depth means it is heated by the geological process. 

Former mining sites will now be mapped to give a high-level assessment of where the best potential lies. More detailed feasibility studies will then be carried out on those considered to have the most realistic likelihood to connect to existing buildings and new developments. 

Mine water is a low carbon, sustainable heat source, which could compete with public supply gas prices and deliver carbon savings of up to 75 per cent compared to gas heating, according to the Welsh Government. 

If able to provide heating it could help Wales achieve its climate reduction targets. 

Around 40 per cet of the energy used in Wales provides heat to homes, businesses and  industry with most coming from gas. But by 2025, there will be no gas connections in new build homes in Wales to support decarbonisation efforts. 

Climate change minister Julie James said: “I’m looking forward to hearing what the Coal Authority discover as part of their work. 

“It’s very exciting that communities could be metres from a technology-ready alternative to traditional heating methods that could help us towards our journey to a Net Zero Wales by 2050.” 

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The potential technology isn’t untried as there have been small pilot schemes that in the UK while Gateshead Council hopes to commission its 3MW mine water heat networkt this year. 

The Welsh Government also says the concept is similar to how the natural flow of warm water from Wales’ only thermal spring in Taff’s Well, north of Cardiff, is providing heating to the nearby park pavilion and the local primary school. 

The National Wales: A pump used to clear water from mines. Picture: Welsh GovernmentA pump used to clear water from mines. Picture: Welsh Government

The Welsh Government ambition is that the entire public sector is carbon neutral by 2030, and it is believed heat from mine water could provide such bodies an alternative solution to their current heating supply. 

It also says mine water heating could also have the potential to support possible new jobs and manufacturing. 

Gareth Farr, head of heat and by-product Innovation at the Coal Authority said: “Mine water from disused coal mines can be used to support heat networks, providing secure, low carbon heat to buildings. 

“We look forward to working with the Welsh Government on this first of a kind project to highlight the opportunity for such technology, creating a green future for Wales’ former coalmining areas.” 

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