A view of London. Image by © Tim Sandle
A new initiative has been devised to provide heat to the City of London by using boreholes has been devised. The aim is to present a lower cost and ‘greener’ initiative.
A borehole may be constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water or other liquid (such as petroleum) or gases (such as natural gas). The new initiative is to draw up hot air for inside heating purposes.
This falls within the concept of geothermal energy, which relates to the renewable energy source. The term ‘renewable’ is applied since heat is continuously produced inside the planet.
The City of London is not ‘Greater London’, it represents the square mile north of the river Thames which houses main financial hub as well as some residences. Nonetheless, it represents a sizeable area for such an experiment and provides a means for those engaged with the financial sector to display some pro-environmental credentials.
According to The Guardian, the experiment is with low-carbon heating systems with the aim to capture heat from more than 650 feet (around 200 meters) below the streets of the City. This is through a £4 million ($6 million) project based on Charterhouse Street, which is located close to Smithfield Market.
The equivalent energy provided will be on the scale to heat around 2,300 homes and on the basis of 50 percent less carbon emissions.
The scheme will be operated by the energy company E.ON UK. The proposal is to develop a heat pump to drive warm air upwards from three 650 feet boreholes, drawing upon the natural warmth of the Earth.
Heat pumps are a renewable energy technology that converts energy in the ground or air into heat. This process seeks to deliver ow-cost, energy-saving heating and hot water all year round.
Commenting on the scheme, Lord Callanan, who is the UK government the energy minister, explains to Environmental Online: “Heating in buildings forms a significant part of the UK’s carbon footprint, so changing how we warm and cool our homes and workspaces is a vital part of eradicating our contribution to climate change by 2050.”
While the concept is ostensibly ‘greener’, there are some potential environmental concerns. For example, geothermal plants operating to scale can potentially release small amounts of greenhouse gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide.
In related news, scientists based at Durham University are to explore whether the water at the bottom of abandoned coal mines could provide a geothermal source of heat. This heat would also be driven using heat pumps, to warm buildings.