A scheme which could lead to 150 homes being warmed using heat from an old mine has been given £6.5m of EU funds.
Underground water in the former Caerau colliery near Maesteg has been naturally heated by the earth, and now Bridgend County Borough Council is investigating how to extract the heat to warm homes using a network of pipes.
The scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK and would use existing radiators to heat homes without mine-water ever entering properties
Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, said: “Our ambition is for our nation to be a world leader in pioneering low carbon energy. This is a cutting-edge model of generating a clean source of renewable energy, drawing on the legacy of our coal mining heritage.
“It will not only attract further investment to the area, but also addresses fuel poverty by cutting energy bills and has the potential to be rolled out to Wales and beyond.
“This EU-funded scheme will also create jobs both within the initial construction period and the ongoing supply chain, as well as offering training and educational opportunities in a very innovative area.”
The findings of a study to determine if the water is warm enough is expected in February.
The British Geological Survey has been testing the temperature, chemistry and volume of the mining-water, with the temperature expected to be around 20.6 degrees celsius – warm enough for the scheme to be a success.
Richard Young, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The volume of water and its temperature makes the scheme possible and now we have been awarded £6.5m of EU funds from the Welsh Government, the next phase is to work through the full scope of the scheme and put everything in place to deliver a trailblazing project for the Llynfi Valley.
“It will also act as a catalyst for other energy project investments, possibly through the City Deal and other investment.”
While the initial heat network will involve 150 properties, and the nearby school and church, there may be potential for the scheme to eventually warm up to a thousand local homes.
The remaining funds for the £9.4m scheme will be made up by the UK Government, Energy Systems Catapult and Bridgend County Borough Council. Other partners include: BGS, Kensa, Egnida, Specific, Carreg Las, Natural Resources Wales and The Coal Authority.