Glasgow’s Hidden Reservoirs

The grey, monotonous appearance of Scotland’s largest city doesn’t scream ‘green energy.’ Quite the contrary – the noise pollution during rush hour traffic, the smog you see rising from factories, the litter lining even the loveliest lanes of the West End all point to Glasgow being a fine candidate for mankiest place to live.

In Shettleston, however, there has been a type of geothermal energy being utilised for a decade now in a small number of homes. Abandoned coal mines beneath the surfaces we walk upon every day contain heated water. There are quite literally reservoirs of energy below our feet that can be harnessed to create geothermal energy across the city.

Pumps can be installed underground to extract heat from these warm pools, thus providing a clean and energy efficient way of heating homes city-wide. With a network of tunnels already beneath us, it is hoped that this energy would be easily transferable to reach as many homes as possible.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University hope that this source of energy could provide up to 40% of Glasgow’s heat found in homes. They plan to map out the entire city’s underground tunnels and reservoirs, which they aim to have completed within three years. Dr Nicholas Hytiris, a geotechnical specialist, said: ‘we believe this technology will, in the long term, be able to provide cheaper and more sustainable heating, which could be an answer to fuel poverty issues prevalent in many areas of Glasgow, particularly those with a mining past and a legacy of poor-quality housing and high unemployment.’

There are always flaws. The heating system has been shown to have problems maintaining itself, electronics controls were not 100% operational, and more efficient filter systems would be needed citywide.

But there is hope for a more environmentally friendly city, with cheaper heating costs for residents. Those living on Glenalmond St in the east end have been using this type of energy for 10 years without a problem. Ideally, we will soon all be partaking in this method of helping to make our city more energy efficient.

[Scott Wilson]

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