Could abandoned mines heat homes?


A new study hopes to give Cornwall’s abandoned mines a new lease of life by demonstrating their potential to heat homes.

Cornwall Council, LiveWest and the National Trust have been awarded £67k from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to explore the potential for sustainable energy from warm water in flooded abandoned mines.

Each organisation has pledged an additional £11k the project, which is being carried out at Geevor, Levant and Botallack mines near Pendeen.

Water within the mines is warmed by natural processes due to the granite bedrock and could provide a continuous supply of heat. Mine water temperatures are not affected by seasonal variations, and combined with heat pump technology, could provide renewable, lower cost and low carbon heating.

The initial study is seeking to explore the use of mine water heating using shafts at Geevor Tin Mine in order to provide heating to LiveWest’s housing stock in the adjacent Boscaswell Estate, Geevor Tin Mine tourist attraction and Levant Mine visitors’ attraction.

If successful, this work could provide a model for the use of mineshafts across Cornwall in the future and with around 400 abandoned mines, mine water heat could improve options for off-gas grid communities and play an important role in meeting carbon neutral ambitions.

Stephen Rushworth, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for economy, said: “In Cornwall half of homes do not have access to mains gas, and so most rely on oil, LPG or electric night storage heating. Many homes are not suitable for air source heat pumps without expensive energy efficiency measures. This feasibility study could greatly improve options for our residents and further develop Cornwall’s geothermal industry.”