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Durham eco-village to tap into geo-thermal energy

January 15th, 2010 Comments off

Newcastle University is pioneering system that will use renewable energy from granite rock ‘hotspot’

A geo-thermal energy system is to be pioneered as part of an eco-village project in the north-east of England.

In 2004 a granite rock “hotspot” was located under the site in county Durham, and the plan is to tap into it to generate renewable energy for homes and businesses in the planned Eastgate eco-village in Weardale.

Newcastle University is developing plans to create a huge central heating system deep below the village, with scientists and engineers wanting to drill a twin borehole system to continually cycle groundwater through rocks as deep as a kilometre underground.

Energy will be generated by passing the hot water through a heat exchange device. It is hoped that the prototype will be used as a model to tap other UK hot spots.

Project leader Professor Paul Younger said using a twin set of boreholes solved problems which had hindered other attempts to use deep-seated hot water, which is heated by naturally-occurring low-level radiation found in all rocks.

He said: “By re-injecting water using a second borehole we are able to maintain the natural water pressures in the rocks and allow pumping to continue for many decades to come.”

Some of the water will also be used for a natural hot water spa, thought to be the first in the UK since the Romans tapped the hot springs at Bath.

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We will have worked for a decade to get back to 2002

January 15th, 2010 Comments off

Economic forecasts reveal ‘sickening’ fall in output for 2009 and a long struggle to regain lost ground

UK construction output will drop 2% in 2010 before making a shallow recovery over the next two years, according to the latest data from Experian.

The economic consultant’s Construction Forecasts report, released today, predicts that output will fall 1.9% this year, but rise 1.1% in 2011 and 2.4% in 2012.

The prediction is more optimistic than that produced by the Construction Products Association (CPA), which this week forecast a fall of 3.1% for 2010, followed by rises of 0.5% and 0.4% in 2011 and 2012.

Tony Williams, a construction analyst who helped compile the Experian forecast, and who runs consultancy firm Building Value, said the suggestion of a shallow recovery was not a good one for the industry.

He said: “For me, 1 or 2% either side of zero is pretty much flat and that’s sickening. We’re going to have worked for a decade to be back to where we were at 2002 levels. It’s pretty depressing. If it weren’t for the Olympics and infrastructure, imagine the situation we’d be in.”

Despite this assessment, Williams said there were encouraging flickers in the commercial market. “The buying and selling of real estate is going pretty well now and rents in the City have just risen, which is a good sign. It’s just going to be a long wait.”

The CPA forecast followed a 12% drop in construction output in 2009, the largest fall in a single year since records began in 1955.

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