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Mineshafts may heat homes.


A TOWN'S forgotten mineshafts could be used to heat new homes.

The pioneering approach is currently being explored by a council as part of its latest housing strategy.

Together with the national Coal Authority, Oldham council bosses are investigating using the potential geothermal energy from the old mineshafts as a means of heating newbuilds. It's believed the heat available underneath the town is "the best in the country".

Many of the former mines were dug during the mid-late 1800s, but coal mining in Oldham is thought to have begun as early as the 17th century. The housing strategy report states that officers are exploring creating a new lowcarbon heat network which would supply any new homes built in the town centre.

This would be served by two sources of heat - spare capacity of biomass boilers in an existing district heating system, and ground source heat from flooded disused coal mines.

However, this plan is the only one at the feasibility stage.

A spokesman for the council said: "It's at a very early stage, but we've looked into the possibility of using heat from disused mineshafts from under the town as a source of power.

"The Coal Authority believes that there is opportunity because the coal mine heat underneath Oldham is the best in the country.

"We're looking to see if the heat can then be extracted using a loop and fed into a new or existing district heating network such as the one already in use in the St Mary's estate."

The housing association, First Choice Homes Oldham, which runs St Mary's estate, have also been involved in the discussions.

However, the potential project is all subject to funding, feasibility and safety studies.

Geothermal energy is created by drilling into the earth's surface. The deeper you go, the warmer it gets.

But, in order to extract geothermal energy from these warm depths, it is essential that water is present and is able to flow from the rock.

That's what makes abandoned coal mines an ideal candidate, as many of the shafts and galleries hundreds of metres below the surface have been flooded with running water.

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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 31, 2019
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