SSE Energy Solutions exploring feasibility of geothermal heat for university

Warwick University could be supplied with heat from a shallow geothermal ground source following a feasibility study carried out by SSE Energy Solutions.

Bore hole drilling underway at Warwick University
Bore hole drilling underway at Warwick University - SSE Energy Solutions

The company is coordinating a programme to drill test boreholes at two different locations on campus and is carrying out tests throughout the process to validate the feasibility of a scheme that will use ground source heat pumps to provide sustainable heat.

If these tests prove successful, sub-surface ground water with all-year-round consistent temperature could supply two ground source heat pump energy centres for the University’s existing heat network and new developments on campus.

In a statement, Jody Pittaway, sector director for Heat Networks, SSE Energy Solutions said: “These initial tests are a first step on the road to heat decarbonisation. They will give the University essential information to facilitate the energy centre design and help to deliver the University’s 2030 decarbonisation goals.”

The project involves tapping into the earth's natural thermal energy at depths of up to 350m. As part of the study, SSE Energy Solutions is working with Warwick University to establish the best low-carbon solution, through technology selection and a phased, modular approach.

In managing this feasibility project, SSE Energy Solutions hopes the eventual outputs could be replicable across other UK campuses.

Parvez Islam, drector of Environmental Sustainability and Infrastructure at Warwick University, said: “Warwick University has an ambitious 10-year programme which will see a mix of new buildings, refurbishment of existing buildings and major facilities, and infrastructure upgrades. Our ambition is for these world-class facilities to be connected to a new innovative energy system, supplied by sustainable, low carbon heat.

“The University’s ‘Way to Sustainable’ strategy makes a commitment to five goals. We aim to meet Net Zero Scope 1+2 emissions by 2030, Net Zero Scope 3 emissions by 2030, achieve Biodiversity Net Gain, embed sustainability into the curriculum, and progress the UN Sustainable Development Goals through research.

“We are delivering our strategy through the pathways of Research, Education, Operations and Engagement. The current ground source heat investigations are a key part of achieving our 2030 net zero target.”