Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced a new research fund to boost development of geothermal energy in the country.
Open to organisations and local communities seeking to achieve carbon reductions and develop new sustainable and long term energy resources, the £250,000 Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund will help Scotland utilise its deep geothermal energy potential assessed in a report two years ago.
“Over the last few years we have developed a better understanding and appreciation of the geothermal resource under our feet,” said Fergus Ewing. “I have taken the advice of the Geothermal Energy Expert Group to build on the findings of the study undertaken in 2012-13 by supporting exploration of the significant potential for geothermal energy in naturally occurring groundwater and the water collecting in our abandoned mines.
Scotland already operates two small-scale projects in Glenalmond Street, Shettleston, and Lumphinnans, Fife, using water from disused mines for heating in local communities.
The fund wants to leverage experience acquired by the two projects and develop a self-sustaining and economically viable model for geothermal energy utilisation.
Iain Todd, Chairman of Fife Geothermal, one of the experimental projects, welcomed the announcement.
“This is an extremely encouraging step forward for a sector that offers significant potential for helping Scotland to achieve its sustainable energy ambitions, but in which there has been little commercial development to date,” he said.
“Fife is already recognised as having significant geothermal resources – both in terms of its geology and using hot water from former mine workings.”
The Fife Geothermal consortium was established in May 2014 to drive development of the region’s abundant natural sources of geothermal energy. The group includes representatives from Fife Council, St Andrews University, the British Geological Survey, Scottish Enterprise, Green Business Fife and a number of industrial companies including Town Rock Energy, Cluff Geothermal and GT Energy.
Further organisations are expected to join the consortium as the project - and Fife’s potential in geothermal and heating schemes - continues to develop.
According to Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, using geothermal energy for heating would help reduce overall carbon emissions to which heating is a major contributor.
“We already know that there is potential to deploy geothermal energy on a very wide scale in Scotland,” he said. “This new funding is very welcome and will help good proposals get moving and attract further investment. Different techniques will have different impacts but geothermal energy is clearly worth serious investigation, and it is great that the Scottish Government is taking the lead in making this happen.”