Water that has filled old Llynfi Valley mines could be used to fuel 1,000 homes
13 June 2016
Ambitious plans are being developed for two renewable energy projects that would cut bills for thousands of homes in Bridgend County Borough.
In the Upper Llynfi Valley, heat could be taken from underground mine water to provide energy for nearly 1,000 homes, while a second project is focusing on creating a modern ‘heat network’ to eventually replace gas boilers in up to 10,000 Bridgend properties.
Both schemes would catapult Bridgend County Borough Council into one of the leading low carbon local authorities in the UK by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and would also act as a catalyst for new employment and training opportunities.
In the Llynfi Valley, former mine workings offer a geo-thermal source of energy as they have filled up with water which has an average temperature of around 10 to 14 Degrees Celsius.
The idea is to pump the water from the mine workings and transport it through a network of pipes to residents’ properties where the heat will be extracted and passed through a heat pump, which will then provide heat for the property using its existing radiator system. The mine water would not, at any point, enter the homes of residents.
The concept for the Bridgend Town Heat Network is to utilise waste heat (in the form of steam) from the proposed Llynfi Valley Biomass Power Station and use it as an energy source for communities in Brackla, Wildmill and Litchard.
In March, Bridgend County Borough Council was one of 24 local authorities – and the only one in Wales – to share a grant of £1.5m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the development of new low carbon heat networks.
The council received £67,000, and a progress update was presented to the council’s Cabinet Members this week.
Councillor Mel Nott OBE, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “We are excited to investigate the technical and financial feasibility of utilising this local energy resource to provide affordable heat for homes and buildings within the county borough.
“We’re proud to be among those testing the large scale viability of using these low carbon heat sources and developing an investment model that could be rolled out in the rest of the UK.
“We’re leading on this exciting project, but clearly as a local authority we do not have the necessary funds available to implement what is being proposed on our own and therefore we’re keen to involve additional partners in this venture.
“So, while the feasibility studies continue, an important next step will be to create a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ which would act as a structure to manage the schemes and through which additional partners could work with the council to successfully deliver the schemes.”
Heat networks are believed to have the potential to supply heat for between 14 per cent and 43 per cent of UK buildings by 2050. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been providing grant funding and expert guidance to support 190 heat network projects since 2013.