Answer to Energy Problems Under Our Feet

Using alternative renewable energy sources could help solve the problem of melting polar ice caps and other environmental dilemmas of the 21st Century.

Work by scientists from Newcastle University has shown that sources of geothermal energy or ‘hot rocks’ in the geology of Newcastle and the North East could provide sustainable energy options. If this ‘clean’ power is harnessed, then it could lead to a reduction in the release of harmful gases to the atmosphere and therefore contribute to fighting global warming.

The team from the University, working with specialist engineering consultants PB Power, drilled the UK’s first geothermal exploration borehole in twenty years at the proposed site of the Eastgate Renewable Energy Village in Weardale, County Durham.

The exploratory borehole was drilled in December 2004 to a depth of 995 metres, cutting more than 720 metres of the Weardale Granite – one of the ‘radiothermal granites’ of the UK. The Weardale drilling confirmed the presence of high rates of heat production and, crucially, a very high natural flow of hot water.

Further testing and work since then has supported the viability of using geothermal energy in the future, both here and on other sites in the region and elsewhere.

For the proposed Renewable Energy Village, access to this underground energy source could mean becoming one of only two geothermally heated spas in the UK, with the water flow and temperature from the borehole indicating that public bathing could be a likely possibility for the scheme. Pumping trials have shown that the water is present in sufficient quantity to provide a heatsource for other developments on the site, providing a sustainable alternative energy for heating needs.

Research like this being conducted in Weardale will help Newcastle Science City drive sustainable economic activity in the future and aid the shift for Newcastle from the birthplace of ‘Carboniferous Capitalism’ to a leader in the global low-carbon economy of the future.

Welcome to the future

Would you like to know more about Newcastle Science City?

Further Information

Newcastle University
To find out more about Newcastle University click on the link below.
BBC Science & Nature
To find out more about BBC Science & Nature click on the link below.
International Centre for Life
To find out more about the International Centre click on the link below.