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EnergyTomson Consulting Develops Project to Harness Heat from Coal Mines for Blyth,...

Tomson Consulting Develops Project to Harness Heat from Coal Mines for Blyth, Northumberland

Sheffield-based engineering firm Tomson Consulting, in collaboration with Northumberland County Council, has taken significant steps toward addressing fuel poverty in Northumberland through an innovative infrastructure project.

Led by Faye Tomson, the team has completed a feasibility study and business plan for a long-term project aimed at mitigating fuel cost fluctuations and generating low-carbon energy to heat multiple facilities in Blyth. These facilities include Blyth Hospital, a leisure center, all council buildings in the town, and approximately 600 units of social housing.

Faye Tomson explained that the project revolves around the creation of a 6MW minewater heat pump in Blyth. This heat pump, if built, will distribute warmth to various buildings, including public structures, shops, offices, hospitals, and homes, sourced from a minewater treatment scheme. Since the coal mines beneath Blyth are now submerged, the water is naturally warm due to the steady temperature maintained by the Earth’s subsurface throughout the year. In Blyth, the water is at 12.5 degrees Celsius when it reaches the surface, making it an excellent heat source for a minewater source heat pump, which operates at high efficiencies compared to air source heat pumps subject to fluctuations in air temperature.

The project aims to utilise the heat resource left behind by coal mining to eliminate the need for individual fossil fuel boilers or electric heaters in each building.

County Councillors have given their approval for the next phase in planning new district heat networks after Tomson Consulting’s investigations into their feasibility in Blyth and Cramlington. Additionally, the Council plans to expand these projects to Alnwick, Ashington, Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth, and Prudhoe.

District heat networks offer numerous benefits, including cost savings through more energy-efficient and decarbonised heating sources, reducing the risk of future fossil fuel price fluctuations.

Faye Tomson stated, ‘We have put together a full business plan which will help to decarbonise heat for the long term through utilisation of heat available in minewater in Blyth. The project has prioritised supplying heat to residents of social housing and key public buildings, helping to reduce fuel poverty in the region, and further developing the low carbon economy.’

The development of heat networks aligns with the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, as it contributes to reducing carbon emissions by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and imported energy from the national grid.

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Glen Sanderson, emphasised the need to explore low-carbon technologies like heat networks to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, particularly as global energy market pressures drive up oil and gas prices. He stated, ‘Heating our properties is one of the largest sources of emissions in the county and we should be exploring new ways in which do this more sustainably so we can save money and the planet,’

Heat networks are a crucial part of the UK’s strategy for achieving net-zero emissions. Since decarbonising heat is challenging and requires localised solutions, heat networks are essential, especially in areas with high heat demand and low-carbon heat sources.

Tomson Consulting is a leading player in heat network feasibility in the UK, with expertise in minewater heat. They have previously undertaken projects in Barnsley, Blyth, and various locations in Scotland. The team has also contributed to a project in Cornwall that uses heat from a disused tin mine to warm a housing estate in West Penwith. Additionally, Tomson Consulting completed a successful feasibility study for Northumberland Council, which, if implemented, would use heat from a biomass power station to heat hundreds of homes, the leisure center, council buildings, and care homes in Cramlington.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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