Geothermal heat pumps to be introduced to Glasgow subway stations


Pilot scheme will start in St George’s Cross and Bridge Street stations

NEW geothermal heat pumps are to be introduced at two Glasgow subway stations to reduce heating and maintenance costs on the underground train system, and if successful they could be rolled out to all 18 subway stations.

The subway network is built in Glasgow’s old Victorian tunnels, and because the train lines intersect two major rivers, it is subject to significant leakage.

The waste water can be turned into energy-efficient heat, and the pump technology is already used for heating homes.

Some experts have claimed as much as 40 per cent of Glasgow’s energy could be provided from geothermal heating using waste water from old mineshafts.

Glasgow Caledonian University geotechnical experts have been developing methods to extract energy from the leaked rain water for the past 18 months. Their pilot scheme will be taking place in the St George’s Cross and Bridge Street stations.

Konstantinos Ninikas, a renewable energy engineer who is part of the PS130,000 study, told The Herald: “We’re trying to get the air at a relatively stable temperature and we pass it through the heat exchanger – this is the pump – to try to exploit this relatively high temperature and produce heating.

“The hope is it will improve the overall efficiency, and reduce the maintenance costs.”

The Glasgow subway operator, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), currently have to continually pump water back out of the subway system as it is impossible to prevent the leakage through the soil.

The study is expected to deliver its first results by the end of May, and SPT Chief Executive Gordon Maclennan said: “The potential of exploiting waste water in Subway tunnels to turn it in to power is very exciting.”

Picture courtesy of Tom Page