Can heat stored within existing mine infrastructure be used to deliver flexibility to an energy system which is becoming more complex as it transition

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering


Objective 1: Explore society's need for energy system flexibility, the function of heat within this and the delivery roles for relevant actors within a future low carbon energy system. Issues to be addressed include:

* The current state of the energy system (particularly with regard to heat production and use) and the transition to a low carbon future
* Demand for services provided by the energy system (eg comfort, mobility, lighting) and the way these change across cultures and time as social practices change
* Complexity and the flexibility required within a changing energy system - use established descriptive and modelling techniques - identify the interactions that occur and the socio-technical solutions needed to enable these (eg digitalisation, energy storage)
* The role of concepts such as decentralisation and democratisation This analysis will be used to identify and justify a more specific focus for the rest of the project. Objective 2: Understand the full range of low carbon energy 'opportunities' presented by use of existing mine infrastructure as both source and storage for heat, and explore where and how it can be used to deliver energy system flexibility.

Issues to be addressed include:
* What is the infrastructure and how could it be used (heat recovery, energy storage, etc)?
* What capacity for heat delivery and/or energy flexibility could this infrastructure provide?
* What are the practical implications of accessing these resources?
* What are the social, economic and technical aspects of the associated business models?
* What are the barriers/risks and who perceives them?
* Where (geographically) are the opportunities (mines and consumers)?

Objective 3: Analyse and compare the opportunities and barriers for three locations in the UK as case studies for the potential adoption of coal mine heat applications. Issues to be addressed include:

* Detailed descriptions of case study locations: - Neath Port Talbot: ambitious energy strategy; creating 'multi-vector' low carbon energy solutions; some empirical data from studies of local mine infrastructure as a heat resource - Nottingham: ambitious energy strategy; established and growing district heating system; local history of coal mining (creating potential resource) - Sheffield: reactive energy strategy; existing and well-developed district heating system with incumbents; local history of coal mining (creating potential resource)
* A series of location specific investigations (more explicitly defined by the outputs of research delivered in response to Objectives 1 and 2): - multi-criteria analysis exploring the range of economic, social, environmental and other factors affecting the potential for utilising coal mine heat locally - establish the potential for delivering local system flexibility through the adoption of coal mine heat solutions - socio-technical assessments of the complex transition pathways through which coal mine heat applications may become viable - use innovative engagement techniques (with actors such as Local Authorities and supply chain companies) for exploring the commercial application and governance implications of coal mine heat as part of future place-specific low carbon energy systems
* Use of the above investigations to construct locally relevant business model options for the commercial exploitation of heat stored in mine water at each location


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022996/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2283174 Studentship EP/S022996/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Oisin Ryley Wilson