• Seaham Garden village at the cutting edge of new low carbon heating scheme

    Seaham Garden village at the cutting edge of new low carbon heating scheme

    Plans to use mine water to heat new development at Seaham Garden Village are set to be the first of its kind in the Country.

    Part of the Governments Garden Villages Programme, Seaham Garden Village is a new sustainable community located to the south of the town close to the A19, Dalton Retail Park and the North Durham Coast.  The development will bring up to 1,500 new homes with Karbon homes delivering 750 affordable homes and the remaining 750 being developed by Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes.

    Dawdon mine water pumping station lies immediately north east of the Garden Village site.  The Coal Authority, which operate the pumping station, have been extracting mine water here for several years (to protect the underground groundwater aquifer).  With the water being around 19-20c when it is pumped out there is an opportunity to take advantage of the heat of the water to provide low carbon heating to Seaham Garden Village, a novel use which would be the first of its kind in the country.

    The potential for similar schemes across the 75 mine water treatment schemes across the UK that the Coal Authority operates is considerable.   In total these schemes release around 100MW per year of geothermal energy to the atmosphere that could be used for heating purposes.

    Durham County Council have agreed to work with the Coal Authority to unlock the opportunity and with 25% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom being in the coalfields and 9 of the 10 largest UK urban areas being over or adjacent to abandoned coal mines, the Seaham Garden Village scheme has the potential to pave the way for the large-scale proliferation of mine energy district heating schemes across the coalfield communities.

    Funding has been secured to part-fund the commercialisation and delivery of a mine water heat scheme consisting of a Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP) grant of £4.3 million to cover £3.230m of construction and £1.070m for commercialisation.  The remaining capital funding for the project will comprise of developer connection charges and a contribution from the Concessionaire.

    The Council are looking for a concessionaire to design, construct, operate and maintain the district heat network on behalf of the council and provide metering, billing and customer services, across a 40-year concession period.  Appointing a concessionaire will allow the Council to take a hands-off approach to the day-to-day running of the scheme, but maintain oversight of heat pricing, carbon savings, and customer service standards.  A two-stage process is underway with  final tenders expected in April 2023 with a view to appointing a Preferred Bidder in May.

    With the development already started it has been necessary for Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes to make alternative arrangements regarding heating for the first units delivered by them.  However this leaves over 1,200 homes that could connect to the mine water scheme.

    The garden village will be set around an integrated community health and wellbeing village with commercial and leisure facilities, a business innovation hub and primary school.  There is also an opportunity for the commercial uses and the Innovation Hubs to connect to the network too.  For the Business Innovation Hub, the Council have been working with Durham University, The Coal Authority and East Durham College to start the RIBA process to develop a project around Mine Energy Research, Training and Skills Development.

    For more information visit the Seaham Garden Village website: https://seahamgardenvillage.co.uk/