Improvement Service

The national improvement organisation for Local Government in Scotland set up to deliver improvement support that would help councils to provide effective community leadership, strong local governance and deliver high quality, efficient local services.

Mine Water Geothermal Resource Atlas - Scotland Edit

A Web Mapping Feature layer identifying optimal locations across Scotland for mine water geothermal development.

Mine water geothermal energy describes the low-carbon practice of using water held in abandoned flooded mines to heat or cool surface thermal demands. The low temperatures (as low as 10°C) require heat pump technology to upgrade thermal energy to usable temperatures for heating homes or industrial applications. The intention of the mine water geothermal resource atlas is to highlight optimal areas to exploit MWG energy in Scotland. If the scale of Scotland’s mine water thermal resource, estimated at 12 GW, becomes better communicated we envisage that this atlas will prove influential for increasing the rate and success of MWG deployment. Ideally, the provision of feasible MWG sites will influence stakeholder decisions i.e., where to invest and develop land to make the best use of the low-carbon resource, resulting in MWG potential included as part of a standard appraisal for a residential or industrial development plan. Whilst it is acknowledged that focused expert input would be required to integrate surface heat demand and subsurface resources in detail, the atlas provides non-experts and decision makers with a first-pass high-level summary of the potential MWG resource located within their area of interest.

The four criteria for site selection are summarised below:

  1. There are more than one (overlapping) mined seams.
  2. The mined seams are deeper than 30 m to minimise subsidence risk.
  3. The mine water head (i.e., mine “water table”) is not excessively deep (< 60 m below ground level) to avoid excessive pumping costs.
  4. The mined seams are shallower than 250 m below ground level to minimise drilling costs.

As a result, this atlas has identified a total of 370.3 km2 across 19 local authority areas which are most suitable for MWG development.

Symbology: The calculated depths for mine water head (Criterion 3) are mapped in 10 m increments with shallower values (0 m – 20 m BGL) shown in shades of pink and deeper values (20 m - 60 m BGL) shown in shades of blue. Where mine water head is shallow (0 m - 20 m BGL) there may be some risk that reinjection may cause mine water heads to approach the surface (depending on the transmissivity of the workings). “Open loop with discharge” may be more feasible for areas with very shallow mine water (0 m - 20 m BGL), but may require additional permitting (discharge consents) and available land for treatment depending on water chemistry. Areas shaded blue (20 m - 60 m BGL) correlate with deeper mine water heads which are most suited to the ‘open-loop with reinjection’ configuration. Both configurations are presented in Walls et al. (2022) - Depths greater than 60 m BGL are not included since they indicate situations which would face excessive pumping costs.

The Mine Water Geothermal Resource Atlas for Scotland (MiRAS) was the work of David Walls, a PhD researcher at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow. David has been supervised by Dr Neil Burnside of the University of Strathclyde, David Banks of the University of Glasgow and Prof. Adrian Boyce of SUERC. The PhD studentship was funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and some of the analysis was funded through the John Mather Trust Rising Star Award. Further contextual details of this work including the input data, specific processing and quality assurance can be found in David’s PhD (How can optimal sites for mine water geothermal energy systems be identified and where are they in Scotland?) and accompanying paper (to be shared when available). If you have any queries regarding the MiRAS, assistance can be provided via emails to; or you can reach David at his new post with TownRock Energy at

Contains data from © The Coal Authority. All rights reserved.


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Category Budget / Finance, Council and Government, Elections / Politics, Food and Environment, Housing and Estates, Planning and Development
Maintainer Improvement Service
Date Created 2023-04-11
Date Updated 2024-06-19
Original dataset link


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