Carbon-Cutting Scheme to Enter Next Phase
A groundbreaking carbon-cutting system that will draw geothermal heat from abandoned flooded coal mines has taken a step forward after plans for an energy centre were approved.
Planning permission has been granted for the two-storey building and underground pipe network that will form part of the Hebburn Minewater Scheme in South Tyneside.
The energy centre will house the water pumps and other plant equipment which will extract the minewater and convert it into usable heat. It will then be distributed to Council-owned buildings in the town centre via a new 272-metre-long network of pipes.
The new centre, which was designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, will include a viewing platform to allow visitors to get a first-hand experience of the innovative process, which is expected to slash annual carbon emissions by hundreds of tonnes.
Cllr Ernest Gibson, Lead Member with Responsibility for Climate Change, said: "This is the next step in making this ambitious renewable energy scheme come to life.
"Investing in the natural environment is one of South Tyneside Council's key priorities, with a target of carbon neutrality by 2030. This scheme is going to make a significant contribution to a cleaner, greener Borough."
Construction of the energy centre and pipe network is expected to get underway in late Spring and Vital Energi has been appointed to carry out the work.
The centre is to be named after the late Professor Paul Younger, an internationally-renowned scientist who was born in Hebburn.
Cllr Ernest Gibson added: "There really was no better choice than Paul when we were deciding how to name the energy centre.
"Paul was eminent in his field and was ahead of his time, championing this kind of minewater technology many years ago.
"We hope he would have been proud of what we are achieving in his hometown and to see us pay tribute to his pioneering contribution."
Last Autumn, the project reached a critical milestone when target mineworkings were hit at a depth of 291m, which was crucial to the success of the multi-million-pound project.
Testing also revealed that the temperature of the minewater is warmer than anticipated, which will result in significantly higher annual carbon savings than previous estimates of 319 tonnes.
The scheme, which secured over £3.9million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund, has been developed in collaboration with the Coal Authority and Durham University.