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Effects of climate change on minewater geothermal prospects: An assessment of minewater resource climate resilience and implications for decarbonising heating and cooling

   Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

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  Dr N Burnside, Dr J Roberts, Dr Scott McGrain  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Decarbonising heat remains challenging: energy for heat accounts for ~half of Scotland’s carbon emissions. Disused mines, filled with water, are a potentially valuable untapped low carbon heat source. Scotland’s history of coal mining is extensive, especially across the Central Belt (the most populated region of Scotland) and the British Geological Survey estimates that minewaters could provide 8% of Scotland's domestic heating requirement, and up to 40% of Glasgow's heat demand, for at least 100 years. As well as emission reduction, minewater geothermal (MWG) provides a substantial socioeconomic opportunity; it is an emerging sector for geoscience skills, and transition of UKCS knowledge to new, low-carbon, applications. Further, ex-mining communities are proportionally more deprived, with more households in fuel poverty (Coalfield Regeneration Trust, 2020), which MWG heating could help tackle. However, any such infrastructure must be resilient to the effects of climate change, which includes the cascade of projected impacts on water resources in Scotland. Change in the magnitude, frequency and seasonality of rainfall will have ramifications for recharge and flood dynamics in disused mine systems. Further, our temperature changes (as well as mitigation measures such as retrofit and smart systems) could change the demand profile for heating and cooling. However, to date, there has been no research on how such direct and indirect impacts of climate change could affect the medium to long term sustainability of MWG resources.

This PhD will address this critical gap via the following aims:

(i)                 Assess the vulnerability of minewater geothermal systems to climate change impacts

(ii)               Identify optimal minewater geothermal systems resilient to, or enhanced by, environmental change due to climate change 

(iii)              Evaluate the medium-long-term socioeconomic value of minewaters for heating and cooling

Subject areas include - Geology, hydrology, environmental engineering, geochemistry, energy, environmental science, environmental chemistry; climatology & climate change, economics and geography.

Further information can be found at - Effects of climate change on minewater geothermal prospects | University of Strathclyde

Funding Notes

Fully funded GeoNetZero (GNZ) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT)
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