Fife researchers probe geothermal heating for homes

Guardbridge Energy Centre
Guardbridge Energy Centre

A green energy centre operated by the University of St Andrews will investigate the feasibility of heating buildings using warm water found deep underground.

The university is the lead partner in a Scottish Government-funded project to find out if geothermal energy can be harnessed to heat homes and businesses across the country while bringing down carbon emissions.

It is also part of the university’s strategic drive to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral university.

The project will be explored at Guardbridge Energy Centre, where the university is already investing £25 million to generate power through clean biomass, pumping hot water four miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences.

Dr Ruth Robinson, the lead for the geothermal feasibility project at the University of St Andrews, said: “Extracting geothermal heat from sedimentary rocks is similar to getting drinking water out of the ground, except in this case the water is warm enough to be used for heating.

“This feasibility project will investigate if there is a business case to explore for geothermal heat, and if feasible, the technological developments arising out of this project could be used for similar projects across Scotland.”

The team in Guardbridge will work with Fife Council and other partners as part of a group called Fife Geothermal, with funds from the Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund, supported by theLow Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

Cllr John Wincott, sustainability champion for Fife Council, said: “Reliable, secure and affordable energy is important for Fife both for our communities and for business. Crucially, heat makes up over half the energy we use, so Fife Council is keen to support work to find local sources of renewable heat.

“Fife looks a good area for geothermal heat - that is basically hot, wet rocks - that could potentially supply the heat source to provide hot water and heating to local homes and businesses. We are therefore delighted to be a member of the Fife Geothermal group, and to be a part of one of only 5 projects to secure funding from the Scottish Government to investigate opportunities around Guardbridge.”

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