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Supporting the UK to build its Geothermal Energy resource

 Visual schematic of how a Geothermal Minewater system works

Geothermal energy is ultra-low carbon, sustainable and almost wholly undeveloped in the UK. 

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) have been at the forfront of exploring goethermal potential within the UK. We are working with policy and research partners in UK and across Europe to research and develop the potential of Geothermal Energy in the UK.

  • Director Jon Gluyas is the principal Adviser for the large INTEREG Geothermal project across Europe.
  • At a regional level we work with local communities, local MPs, regional authorities such as North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combine Authority, the Coal Authority and Local Authorities, such as Durham County Council, to identify opportunities for Geothermal in the region.


Geothermal opportunities in UK 

If we fully develop geothermal energy in the UK we could:

  • keep the nation warm for an absolute minimum of 100 years,
  • cut more than 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions and
  • improve national energy security by being able to rely on sustainable heat resources within the UK.

Geothermal and heat opportunities in the UK include abandoned mines across the UK which are flooded with water that can be used for space heating in homes, work places, warehouses and more. In addition to providing low carbon, secure energy this can bring economic and social improvements to regions that suffered following the abandonment of deep mining in the UK. Find out more from our Mine water heat poster .

Beyond flooded mines, geothermal energy can be extracted from seep saline aquifers such as those underlying the Cheshire Basin and Worcester Graben, throughout most of Eastern England, the Central Belt of Scotland and Wessex where the Southampton District Energy Scheme has been supplying geothermal hot water to customers for > 25 years.

Exploitation of wasted geothermal heat can also used to decarbonise the offshore petroleum industry by using such heat from waste water production for power generation.

The programme of research at DEI includes:

  • Mine water heat

Development of district heating schemes which use warm water from some of the 23,000 abandoned mines in the UK. Leading the way are County Durham and South Tyneside councils who will have operating schemes for housing and municipal buildings (4-5MW each) in the next few years based upon Durham Energy Institute R&D. 

There is one operational mine water heat scheme (the largest geothermal scheme in Britain) in the North East Region with a further four projects currently drilling/under construction in 2021. 

Knowledge exchange has been achieved with the transfer of Dr Charlotte Adams from Durham University to Coal Authority to lead implementation of these schemes.

As a result of our partnership work the Coal Authority are working with Local Authorities to develop mine water heat projects at Gateshead and Seaham Garden Village.

DEI have also supported a number of feasibility studies for Geothermal energy from mine water schemes including The Louisa Centre and Swimming Pool in Stanley and projects at Hebburn and Holborn.

Our new GEMS interdisciplinary project will provide integrated solutions, from initial heat extraction to the end user, for maximising mine water geothermal heat energy. It will combine novel simulation tools, innovative heat storage solutions, thorough evaluation of the governance and economic landscape, and community participation.

Many other projects will follow!

  • Capture, re-use and storage of waste heat from industry.
  • Solar thermal for recharging shallow geothermal systems with heat research.
  • Resource evaluations for sustainable geothermal heat have also been made and published on UK sedimentary basins, UK hot granite, deep buried cave systems of the UK, onshore and offshore aging/abandoned petroleum fields.
  • DEI was a founding member of BritGeothermal partnership in 2012. A UK based academic research consortium for global deep geothermal energy research.
  • DEI Director Jon Gluyas is the principal Adviser for the large INTEREG Geothermal project across Europe.
  • Durham University and partners in NE Scotland have also formed the not-for-profit company SHIFT Geothermal Ltd in 2020, with the aim of decarbonising the UK and global petroleum industry using geothermal energy from co-produced brine and possibly from geostored CO2. Success with using stored CO2 as the power fluid would see CO2 being commercialised at large industrial scale for the first time ever globally.
  • DEI has been a key driver behind the formation for the Geothermal Energy Advancement Association with Jon Gluyas becoming the first president of this new entity designed to promote geothermal energy on a global scale.


Find out more about our Geothermal research and activities.

Selected related publications:

Gluyas, J.G. and Adams, C.A. and Wilson, I.A.G. (2020) 'The theoretical potential for large-scale underground thermal energy storage (UTES) within the UK.', Energy reports., 6 (7). pp. 229-237.

Gluyas, Jon and Auld, Alison and Adams, Charlotte and Hirst, Catherine and Hogg, Simon and Craig, Jonathan (2019) 'Geothermal potential of the global oil industry.', in Renewable geothermal energy explorations. , pp. 1-11

Gluyas, J.G. and Adams, C.A. and Busby, J.P. and Craig, J. and Hirst, C. and Manning, D.A.C. and McCay, A. and Narayan, N.S. and Robinson, H. and Watson, S. and Westaway, R. and Younger, P.L. (2018) 'Keeping warm : a review of deep geothermal potential of the UK.', Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A : journal of power and energy., 232 (1). pp. 115-126.

Adams, Charlotte; Auld, Alison; Gluyas, Jon; Hogg, Simon Ian (2015) ‘Geothermal energy – the global opportunity.’ Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: journal of power and energy, 2015, Vol.229(7), pp.747-754 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

The Conversation comment piece We could use old coal mines to decarbonise heat – here’s how’ by Professor Gluyas and Dr Adams