THE green light has been given to experts’ plans to drill 2,000 metres below the ground in search of an environmentally-friendly energy source.
Scientists from Newcastle University have been given planning permission to create boreholes up to 2km deep – 100 times the height of the Angel of the North.
They will drill down in search of geothermal energy below the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery site.
Geothermal energy is seen as a very green type of renewable power, as it does not require the burning of fossil fuels like coal or gas and gives out very little in the way of emissions, except steam.
It involves harnessing natural heat from deep below the surface of the earth and using it to warm water on the surface.
Experts plan to set up two boreholes to test the temperature and find out whether the method could be used to produce electricity, central heating or hot water for buildings planned as part of the Science Central development earmarked for the site.
Members of the city council’s planning committee granted permission for the boreholes after reading a report which said “the principle of a geothermal drill rig drilling to a depth of 2km is acceptable given the nature of neighbouring land uses, the location of the site within the wider former brewery site, the noise mitigation measures proposed and the restricted hours of operation”.
There were no objections to the plan.
Scientists applied to drill two 10cm wide boreholes to a depth of up to 2km over a temporary period of 39 weeks.
They plan to use an 11m high drill rig and to drill between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am and 5pm on a Saturday.
In 2008, maps published by the British Geological Survey revealed Newcastle had geothermal energy potential.
There are plans to house new science businesses, other offices, student accommodation and a green energy research centre on the former brewery site, which was bought by the city council, One North East and Newcastle University, as part of Science Central.
Last month Newcastle University scientists celebrated successfully siphoning water at a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius from 1km below the ground at Eastgate in County Durham.
The water was brought to the surface by a twin borehole system, the first of its kind in the UK.
Using two holes allows the water to be pumped back underground to be warmed up again, in a kind of large-scale heating system.
The idea is for the water to be used to provide renewable heat for homes and businesses, including a hotel and spa, in the Eastgate eco-village due to be built in Weardale. The village is also set to be the only place in the country to use all five forms of land-based renewable energy available in the UK wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal.
The Eastgate project was given £461,000 by the Government to get it off the ground.