In the southern Dutch province of Limburg, the city of Heerlen is now the first in the world to heat and cool homes with geothermal energy.
According to The Times of London, geothermal energy will be sourced from water heated in coal mines that were abandoned and flooded in the seventies.
With a 55 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Heerlen expected, the mine water concept “can be adapted by former mining regions all over the world,” said Heerlen councilor Riet de Wit.
At the moment the project is relatively small and able to heat around 350 homes and businesses, mainly because heating and cooling efficiency depends on proximity to the mines.
Water drawn from deeper down the mines – up to 800 meters – can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas cold water higher up will be used for cooling.
Supplementary boilers will increase water temperature as needed, the article said.
After use, the water will be pumped back into the mine to be used again later.
Ultimately, the project hopes to have zero carbon emissions and scientists are working on ways to capture and reuse any carbon dioxide released.
“Dutch city kept warm by hot-water mines”
The Times of London, October 6, 2008