In an uncertain global environment, Scotland more than ever needs accelerated action on the energy and the climate crisis, and yet one significant and proven source of renewable energy remains untapped since the turn of the century. We need to get geothermal energy back on the policy table.
Geothermal sources of energy come in three general forms: hot rocks; hot aquifers; and abandoned mineworkings. Scotland doesn’t have many hot rocks or aquifers, but it does have plenty of abandoned mineworkings, two proven examples where homes are using that energy, and a specialist research and testing centre. Also, conveniently, our mineworkings tend to be in the sorts of post-industrial areas that are crying out for jobs and regeneration. Does this sound like a wasted opportunity to you?
And one more thing. With Wales now pushing ahead with plans for a public energy company, based in no small part on proposals developed here in Scotland, we could be taking a safe bet on energy from mineworkings as a way to address these twin emergencies as part of a pragmatic and comprehensive reboot of our own National Energy Company.
― The demands of the climate emergency are such that Scotland accelerate plans to decarbonise our economy and especially our energy sector.
― Ambitions to create a Scottish National Energy company may be realised by focussing on supply of heat which, unlike electricity, is a sector that is entirely within devolved competence.
― Geothermal energy has the potential to provide a large fraction of Scotland’s heat demand, particularly when considering the potential to extract heat from flooded mineworkings.
― This heat could be extracted using Ground Source Heat Pumps and delivered to homes via district heat networks.
― In this way, Scotland’s fossil fuel legacy can be reformed and the legacy of deindustrialisation left in its wake can be reversed. If developed via public-ownership Scotland can retain the returns on the investment in Scotland and, particularly, within the communities who would provide the thermal resources as they become champions of local renewable energy.