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23 February 2011

Newcastle geothermal energy project promises to heat up the toon

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Howay the drillers, as work begins on two kilometre borehole to heat Newcastle science park and city centre buildings

Engineers will today begin drilling a 2,000m deep hole in an attempt to harness geothermal heat from below the city of Newcastle.

If all goes to plan, the team from Newcastle and Durham Universities hope to pump out water heated to 80C (176F) that could eventually heat the city's planned 24-acre Science Central site as well as neighbouring city centre buildings.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) supported the £900,000 project with a £400,000 grant from the second round of its Deep Geothermal Challenge Fund, with the remainder raised by the Newcastle Science City Partnership.

Construction is expected to last about six months, with the first water pumped out in June.

Professor Paul Younger, director of the University's Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, said the scheme could offer huge financial and environmental benefits to the city.

"If we're right and we pump up water at such elevated temperatures, it would mean a fully renewable energy supply for a large part of the city centre, massively reducing our reliance on fossil fuels," he said. "And unlike other renewables such as wind and solar, geothermal energy is available at all times, independent of the weather."

The North East is something of a hotspot for geothermal energy with water heated to 40C pumped from a 1,000m twin-borehole at Eastgate, in Weardale, County Durham by the same team last year.


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