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Old Mines Hold Geothermal Promise

By NAM News Room

Among the lesser-known projects set to get federal funds: turning old coal mines into geothermal energy hubs, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “Abandoned coal mines generally fill with water when the mining has ceased. That water contains heat from far below the earth’s surface. People can drill bore holes to bring that heat to the surface, then pass it through heat exchanges and heat pumps in buildings and in homes.” 

  • The first such heating scheme in Great Britain recently began operation and is expected to serve more than 1,200 homes eventually.
  • While geothermal energy isn’t new, “taking it from abandoned coal mines is not yet common, especially in the United States.”

Why it’s important: Geothermal energy is carbon-free and can be used to both heat and cool buildings—and mines offer storage, a sought-after characteristic in renewable energy sources. 

  • What’s more, old mines are plentiful in the U.S. “In Ohio, there are more than 4,000 abandoned mines, a wealth of opportunity for geothermal energy.”
  • “In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that the amount of water currently being discharged from underground coal mines in just the Pittsburgh coal seam could potentially be used to heat and cool roughly 20,000 homes.”
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