Geothermal Resource Basis for RE Village

Old factory buildings often just become homes for new factories, but in Weardale in the British Isles the Lafarge Cement Factory will become a renewable energy village. Wind and solar energy are usually the first technologies associated with renewable energy, but the discovery of significant geothermal resources at the site is what will push the project ahead.

Drilling at the site reached a target depth of 1000 meters, and researchers reported that the water currently standing in the borehole is sufficiently warm enough for space heating. The composition, temperature and flow data now available from engineers at PB Power and researchers at the University of Newcastle indicate the resource is likely to prove consistent with a hot springs development where low volumes of warm saline water are typically used. According to statements in the report “The Eastgate geothermal exploration borehole has wholly vindicated the hydro geological concepts upon which it was proposed. By any standards, the Eastgate prospecting program has been a great success, revealing the presence of a geothermal resource at least as promising as the best ever previously identified in the UK.” This news allows the final stages of the Eastgate site master plan to be developed into the UK’s first renewable energy model village incorporating geothermal energy, as identified in the Renewing Weardale Strategy. The Renewable Energy Feasibility work carried out to date has been made possible by the GBP 300,000 (US $581,846) funding received from One NorthEast through the County Durham Sub Regional Partnership and GBP 245,000 of European funding. “The success of this project is largely due to the preliminary work carried out by Professor Paul Younger and Professor David Manning from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne who identified the exact spot for the drilling,” Chairman of the Weardale Task Force John Hamilton said. The way is now open to consider further well development, which could facilitate even greater use of the hot water in the area. Geothermal energy is only one of the proposed sustainable energy sources to be incorporated into the planning of the new Eastgate development. The renewable energy village has the potential for the exploitation of all land-based renewable energy sources in a combination unique to the UK. The other renewable energy sources to be included on the site are biomass, wind power, hydro-electricity and solar energy. All of this energy has the potential to provide all of the power requirements for the proposed development, with any surplus energy being available to supply the rest of the Dale. This could make Weardale the first truly sustainable community in the British Isles. “This pioneering development has the potential to generate new jobs and prosperity for the dale and put the area at the forefront of renewable energy useage in the UK, which will play an increasingly important part in all our lives in years to come,” said John Holmes, the director of Regeneration and Tourism for One NorthEast, which is a regional development agency for the North East region of England. Draft plans for the site include a high-specification mixed-use development providing recreation; tourism; housing and high technology business developments.
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