Investigation work continues on innovative Caerau Local Heat Scheme

Investigation work is continuing on an innovative project in Caerau which is looking at how heat could be extracted from underground water inside a former colliery.

If proved to work successfully, the £9.7m scheme would be the first ever large scale minewater energy scheme to be created in the UK.

The scheme is looking to supply homes, community buildings and a local primary school in its first phase of development.

Bridgend County Borough Council, which is overseeing the project, is working closely on the scheme alongside partners such as Welsh Government, British Geological Survey, Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff University, Energy Systems Catapult and The Coal Authority.

Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Richard Young, said: “This local heat network is all about helping to address fuel poverty, supporting the development of a new energy industry and developing skills within the low-carbon agenda.

“In tackling fuel poverty, energy bills will be lowered by at least 10 per cent while energy security will be enhanced for residents and businesses.

“This innovative local renewable energy scheme will also demonstrate investment potential for other communities while creating opportunities for local supply chain businesses.”

He added: “Test drilling into the mine workings in 2018 found that the underground water had a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Following ongoing research, it has become clear that we need further data to confirm how much water is down there, how hot it is, how much it will cost to pump it up to the surface, and how long it will; take for the water to regain its temperature once it goes back underground.

“We are all hoping that this work will result in a major success, but even if it proves to be too expensive to be viable there are other options that we can investigate to bring about the same advantages on fuel and carbon savings for Caerau.”

The project is supported by £6.5m of EU funds, with Bridgend County Borough Council funding of £400,000 and grants from UK Government and the Welsh Government.

It is one of several schemes the local authority is working on as part of its role as a pioneer of renewable energy projects.

The county is one of three areas in the UK, alongside Bury in Greater Manchester and Newcastle, chosen by the UK Government to facilitate projects that could then be rolled out across the country.