THE Energy minister Lord Callanan has spoken of his excitement at seeing the North-East taking the lead in the new green industrial revolution.

He spoke following a tour of the region, as it is poised to become the UK’s first low carbon heat cluster.

Lord Callanan's visit comes in the wake of the publication of a reports highlighting the potential of mine energy – which uses natural geothermal-heated water that has gathered in the underground networks of former deep coal mines – in helping the UK to achieve its Net Zero target by 2050.

Another report just released, is on Gateshead Council’s Zero Carbon Heat Strategy, outlining its ambition to make all council buildings and homes net zero by 2030, through major investment in heat networks, as well as supporting clean hydrogen and heat pumps.

Lord Callanan visited the Dawdon mine water treatment scheme in County Durham, which will provide low-carbon geothermal heat from the abandoned coal mine to the Seaham Garden Village site nearby.

He said: “The water filling up those old pits is naturally heated to 20 degrees centigrade and is pumped out and the heat recovered to heat homes and schools. It’s a very exciting new project.

“Heating our homes and workspaces without causing carbon emissions is going to be key to tackling climate change and heat networks are proving an effective solution as well as opening up huge potential for investors at home and abroad.

“These low-carbon technologies are allowing us to build back greener from the pandemic, and as the Heat Networks Industry Council’s Ministerial Champion, I’m excited to see the opportunities they are providing in the North East.

“As a native of this region, I’m well aware of how coal dug from under our feet powered the industrial revolution 200 years ago and it’s fitting that that legacy and heat taken from former mines is now helping drive forward a new green industrial revolution.”

Councillor Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the drive towards achieving net zero carbon emissions.

“The proposed district heating system at Seaham Garden Village will use ultra-low carbon energy from the former mine workings.

“The use of this technology could be replicated in other parts of County Durham, the North East region and elsewhere across the UK’s former coalfield sites.”

Also on the agenda was a visit to the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which has been awarded funding to double its heat network, using geothermal energy from a network of old mine workings 150 metres below Gateshead to supply heat to homes and businesses.

John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: “Our work on heat networks and harnessing geothermal heat shows our ambition to tackle climate change and reach our zero carbon goal by 2030.

“We already have a significant track record of investment in heat networks, so this is proven technology – now we need to move across to sustainable sources of energy and roll out zero carbon heating to a much wider audience across the borough.”

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