A pipe stretching nearly 1.2miles into the ground could deliver heating from the earth to the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) and nearby homes, a report has found.
A feasibility study revealed that a deep geothermal well would cost around £2.3million to build and would save 22,170 tonnes of carbon emissions over its lifetime. The project – if it goes ahead – would use the skills of the region’s oil and gas industry to deliver and could become a major attraction at the AECC showcasing the benefits of deep geothermal energy.
Aberdeen City Council has said it is “willing to support” a bid to fund the scheme through the Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund, which funded the feasibility study.
The report, undertaken by a London-based consultancy Geothermal Engineering, the University of St Andrews and engineers Ove Arup, has proposed a “deep geothermal single well” (DGSW) system for the Rowett site.
One of the benefits of the proposed system is that it does not require hydraulic facturing or “fracking” to deliver which means that it is unlikely to cause earthquakes.
The well would also be designed to work with the anaerobic digestion plant that is currently proposed for the AECC site – which would save the £500,000 cost that would have been required for a gas boiler to power the anaerobic plant.
The report estimates that the project could be up and running in two years. The AECC is due to open its doors in 2017.
Iain Stewart, professor of geoscience communication at Plymouth University and author of the report, said the AECC was “the best site in Scotland” for the project.
“It is considered that this unique ‘two-for-one’ demonstrator opportunity at the AECC will be the perfect opportunity to showcase deep geothermal to the local oil and gas industry – highlighting crossover and supply chain opportunities – and also educate the public, school children and university researchers on the potential for deep subsurface projects.
“In that context, it is considered to be the best site in Scotland for the development of a ‘deep geothermal exhibition’ aimed at improving the public’s visibility of the subsurface.
“This is a great chance to move decarbonised heat supply from the earth from academic speculation to commercial reality.”
Andrew Win, city development manager for Aberdeen City Council said in a statement: “The proposed project to supply renewable low carbon heat is an exciting opportunity for both the local community and wider Scottish interests. The proposed project can help to develop the skill and knowledge transfer with the oil and gas industry.”
He added: “This project could trigger the beginning of a new industry.”
Green groups also welcomed the scheme’s potential. WWF Scotland noted that while 55% of Scotland’s total energy consumption comes from heating demand, only 3% comes from renewable sources.
Lang Banks, WWF Scotland director, said:“Thanks to the growth in renewables and the closure of fossil-fuel power stations, Scotland is well on its way to de-carbonising its electricity system.
“Sadly, the same cannot be said for how we heat our homes, businesses and water – with just 3% of that heat coming from renewable sources.”