Summit Partner Blog – The Coal Authority

At the Coal Authority, we aim to provide expert advice and creative solutions to governments, public bodies, private organisations and landowners to manage the public safety and environmental issues arising from historical coal and metal mining.

In recent years, we have had a big focus on innovation, particularly in relation to our mine water heat schemes – where we’ve been looking at how we can create green energy from water that has been collected within former mines.

The initiative is now a proven success as we have just celebrated 6 months of the nation’s first large-scale network operating successfully and we’re keen for more of these projects to be rolled out across the former coalfields.

It took just three years for the ground-breaking energy project in Gateshead to go from first concept meeting to full operation on 29 March 2023.  It is now one of the largest in Europe and has been providing hot water and heat to hundreds of homes and businesses for six months now. It uses existing technology to supply secure, stable-priced heat, replacing the gas engines that used to heat the network.

This is a major step forward in the mission to decarbonise heat and a real-world example of how former mining communities could benefit from using the historical industrial coal mining infrastructure to create an eco-friendly future.

The innovative project is helping to combat climate change and achieve net zero aims by tapping into the potential of water-filled, disused coal workings underground. It harnesses geothermal energy from mine water to generate localised, secure, low-carbon heat, replacing the function of traditional boiler systems.

Work on the underground mines required by the scheme was supported by the Coal Authority as we own and manage the disused coal-mining infrastructure on behalf of the British Government. We also have a team of dedicated specialists who have been researching the potential for recovering low-carbon heat from disused coal mining infrastructure for several years. We are proud to have supported the Gateshead Energy Company project throughout and believe it demonstrates how similar networks could benefit other coalfield communities across Great Britain.