Oldham’s former coal mines could soon be heating buildings across the town centre thanks to an innovative scheme to tap into an unused, renewable energy source.
The Oldham Mine Water Heat Network is a pioneering project from Oldham Council which would use heat reclaimed from the floodwater in disused coal mines that sit underneath the town centre.
Initial studies have confirmed the process looks promising for Oldham and the council has now been awarded over £160,000 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to support the next stage of feasibility works.
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, said: “We are proud to be piloting innovative ways to fight the climate and energy crisis and exploring new methods for affordable and clean energy.
“Oldham is one of only a handful towns in the UK to be developing plans for a mine water heat network. As the planet continues to suffer and energy bills hit record highs, we must do all we can find an affordable, eco-friendly solution.
“The mine water heat network is an exciting opportunity to use Oldham’s industrial heritage in a new and sustainable way and supports our Green New Deal commitment - to becoming carbon free as a council by 2025 and as a borough by 2030.”
Mine water gets warmer the deeper it is. Temperatures range from 10 - 20°C however they can reach 40°C at depths of around 1km. Mine water can be abstracted from boreholes and shafts.
Heat exchangers and heat pumps are used to recover the heat and distribute it via district heating networks to homes and buildings.
Other projects to boost green energy are also progressing to put Oldham on the map as the greenest borough in Greater Manchester.
We are looking to offer residents options to make their homes more energy efficient through a new Greater Manchester wide scheme. This could include things like better insulation, air source heat pumps and solar panels.
The Warm Homes Oldham programme already helps qualifying households to upgrade the energy efficiency of their home, but the council wants to make it easier for everyone in Oldham to improve their home in this way.
We’re also exploring ways for residents and businesses to be able to purchase locally generated renewable energy directly through a “local energy market” which will set its own prices independently of the main energy providers.
Cllr Jabbar added: “We are living in incredibly difficult times and the increase in energy bills and rising cost of living is a huge concern for so many of us.
“At the same time, fossil fuels continue to damage our climate. We must act now before it is too late.
“Oldham Council is leading the way to find real solutions as quickly as possible and we look forward to the financial and environmental benefits this work will give our residents.”