Having just returned from a super-awesome fantabulously brilliant trip to Iceland, I was pretty excited to find out the topics of some of the talks! There was a whole theme on Geology and Planet Earth. Within that I chose to attend two talks:
- Scotland: Behind the Landscape, by Helen Robinson
- Does Scotland Really Have Geothermal Energy? by Dr Alistair McCay
It turns out we do (!) but it's an extremely risky business as investors would have to put 47% of their investment down up-front just to do an exploratory dig and hope that they're in the right place. Obviously there are scientists who predict where the right spots are (around ancient fault lines etc) but you never really know until your 2km under! Glasgow has a tonne of old coal mine shafts which could be brought into play but first the government needs to be persuaded to invest in a couple of demo sites where investors could come along and see the types of projects they could fund with their own eyes first.
You might be wondering how it would work? Well...I am a layman, so forgive me for glossing over the super technical details, but basically you would drill down to find the right layer of rock which is hot enough then pump the hot water up to ground level, pass it through a heat exchanger and harness the energy, then put the colder water back down into the hole, and so the cycle would continue! The heat could be used for district heating systems, which do exist in new estates such as the Commonwealth village in the east end of Glasgow. In Paris, 120,000 homes are heated using exactly this kind of geothermal heat!
A Study into the Potential for Deep Geothermal Energy in Scotland: Part 1