SCIENTISTS are occasionally accused of throwing money at problems. But in Newcastle city centre they are pouring £1m into the ground – literally.
The pioneering bore hole project led by Newcastle University’s Institute for Research on Sustainability has attracted plenty of publicity as scientists aim to tap into water of about 80ºC.
But the initiative, on the site of the proposed Science Central development in the heart of the city centre, is more than just a publicity stunt. If it proves successful, the geothermal energy would be used to power the new development on the site and become the first project of its kind in the country.
It is quite appropriate that Newcastle should be home to such a pioneering scheme. The city has twice been named the most sustainable city in the UK, becoming the first place to retain the prestigious title. And the bore hole project is just one example of the city’s sustainability credentials, which are being led by the recently established institute, headed by Professor Paul Younger.
“This is a golden opportunity to see if we can provide some, if not all, of the energy requirements for Science Central from the most low-carbon energy source there is,” said Prof Younger. “If we’re right and we pump up water at such elevated temperatures, it would mean a fully renewable energy supply for a large part of the city centre, massively reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.”
The university is not pursuing the sustainability agenda in isolation, however. Instead, it is working in partnership with organisations such as Newcastle City Council and businesses to bring its vision of a sustainable city to reality. And, for a place that can justifiably lay claim to being one of oldest industrial cities in the world, it seems appropriate that it should now seek to become a global leader in the new revolution for the 21st century.
Now a new campaign ‘Enough, For All, Forever’ has been launched by the university to highlight the work that is going on in the area. A series of events and a publicity campaign will help to ensure as many businesses and people as possible are engaged in the initiative.
At one such recent event, former managing director of Saatchi and Saatchi Sustainability Niall Dunne visited the university to lead a debate about the conflict between consumption and resources.