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 â€œhotspotâ€ 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: â€œBy 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.â€
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.