Minewater heat in Heerlen / Gruvvattenvärme i Heerlen

Posted on September 30, 2008


The journey home from Halifax became dramatic when the airport found itself under the outer edge of a hurricane. There were many aircraft that could not land but those that were there could leave. A shaky start ended with a smooth flight over the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, I must decline many invitations to speak, but it was difficult to say no to an invitation to speak at the opening of the world’s first minewater heat project. After a little sleep I began a new journey down to Aachen/Heerlen in Germany/Holland.

Heerlen is a town in Holland’s little appendix between Belgium and Germany. Until 1970 it was a significant mining town where they extracted coal. When they found the enormous gas field in Groningen coal was phased out and the mining tunnels were filled with water. It was realised that the water in the mining tunnels up to 700 metres below ground was being heated geothermally and that one could use the water for heating the city. It was Elianne Demollin-Schneider that thought of this.

There are now 7 former mining towns that are participating in ”The Minewater Project” and on 1 October the first plant will be opened. Details of the project can be found at http://www.minewaterproject.info/

My presentation has the title, ”Europe faces the Challenges ahead” and I have written an introductory abstract. How will Europe get sufficient oil and gas in future?
If you do not want to read the abstract then stop reading here.

(Swedish below the abstract)


“Europe faces the challenges ahead” –
Why European cities, regions and nations urgently need to convert to local sources of sustainable energy.

Kjell Aleklett, Professor of Physics
Uppsala University
Global Energy Systems
Box 535, SE-75121 Uppsala, Sweden
E-mail: kjell.aleklett@fysast.uu.se
Blog: aleklettwordpress.com

The world can be divided into four centres of power; The USA, China, Russia and the EU. Despite economic problems in the USA it is apparent from all statistics that greatest economic power is held by the USA. If we study in detail the underlying factors that contribute to a nation’s economic, political and military strength then we find that the decisive factor is energy. Under the current economic system, where more than 80% of global energy production comes from fossil fuels, access to fossil energy is decisive for a region’s economic strength.

In terms of the total access to fossil fuel reserves in the four power centres there are stark differences between the USA, China, Russia and the EU. Because of its large reserves of coal the USA tops the list followed by Russia, China and the EU. When we consider only oil then Russia leads while the USA, EU and China are forced to import large volumes. This means that three of the four superpowers have a future that is very vulnerable. We in the EU have a large “energy debt” and those that are in debt are not free.

In terms of production of oil and natural gas only Russia is self-sufficient and will continue so as far into the future as we can plan. Chinese production is levelling off and that means that all future increases in consumption must be imported. Discovered volumes of natural gas in China are quite small but production is still increasing. Oil production in the USA is falling and is expected to continue to do so.

Production in Europe’s two largest oil producing nations, Norway and the UK, is sinking like a stone. Total gas production is also declining. Every year the EU becomes more and more dependent on energy imports and our freedom declines. It is this energy trend that is the EU’s greatest challenge and every nation, every city, every village and every person in the EU must understand how serious our situation is and that we must act on this immediately.

When we plan the future we must study how energy is used in our communities and how we, ourselves, use energy in our everyday lives. Since ancient times we make approximately four long journeys per day. As an example we might move to and from our workplace and to and from the shops. Today these movements are much longer than they were 100 years ago and they are performed mainly with the assistance of fossil fuels. We must break this trend.

Our houses are larger than they were 100 years ago and they are now both warmer and cooler than the temperature of the surrounding environment. Here there is great potential for energy savings.

Finally we must examine our food. Rich and poor alike both need to consume approximately the same amount of energy in food. The energy that exists in food is markedly less than the energy that exists in the oil that is needed to produce the food. “We eat oil!” At the Liverpool Management School they have studied the contribution of oil to the cost of production of milk and have concluded that 70% of the cost can be related to the price of oil.

Our calculations show that global oil energy production is about to reach a maximum, Peak Oil. Today we produce around 85 million barrels of oil per day and, in the best case (if high production is good) we can reach 93 million barrels per day around year 2015. In the worst case we are at maximal production just now, i.e. we will be on a production plateau for some years.

Every additional device for production of renewable energy is a step in the right direction. The future needs many steps but today we are gladdened by the steps that are done here at this moment.

Hemfärden från Halifax blev dramatisk då flygplatsen hamnade i utkanten av en orkan. Det var flera plan som inte kunde landa med de som var på plats kunde starta. En skakig början avslutades med en lugn färd över Atlanten.

Tyvärr måste jag säga nej till många inbjudningar att tala, men till inbjudan att tala då man skall inviga världens första gruvvattenprojekt var det svårt att såga nej till. Efter lite sömn blev det en ny resa ner till Aachen/Heerlen i Tyskland/Holland.

Heerlen, en stad i Hollands lilla blindtarm mellan Belgien och Tyskland, var fram till 1970 en betydelsefull gruvstad där man bröt kol. Då man hittade det enorma gasfältet i Groningen fasades kolet ut och gruvgångarna fylldes med vatten. Iden kläcktes att vattnet i gruvgångarna upp till 700 meter under marken värmdes upp geotermiskt och att man skulle kunna använda vattnet för uppvärmning av staden. Det var Elianne Demollin-Schneider som knäckte den iden.

Nu finns det 7 gamla gruvstäder som är med i ”The Minewater Project” och den 1 oktober invigs den första anläggningen. Detaljer om projekten finns på hemsidan; http://www.minewaterproject.info/

Mitt föredrag har titeln ”Europe faces the Challenges ahead” och jag har skrivit ett inledande abstrakt. Hur skall Europa i framtiden få tillräckligt med Olja och Gas?

Om du vill läsa abstraktet på engelska så finns det längre upp.

Posted in: Dagsaktuellt