image of geothermal drilling site on campus

Work starts on new geothermal drilling sites

Last updated on 21 March 2024

Drilling has started on new locations on campus as part of an Estates-led project to discover whether geothermal energy can be used to heat campus buildings.

The latest round of work is taking place at locations near Henry Price Residences, Leeds University Business School and Storm Jameson.

Work on the site is expected to continue until mid-April and follows the successful completion of a borehole at a first site at the Henry Price Residences in mid-February.

If successful, it could provide a clean, sustainable source of heat that reduces our reliance on both fossil fuels and electricity.

A thirty-foot drilling rig has been on campus since the start of February and has already drilled to depths of over 150 metres as part of the project.

The holes being drilled include water wells, which are looking for underground water at the right temperature to use for geothermal energy and monitoring wells, which are used to check the impact of extracting heat on the surrounding areas.

The project, which is part of the University’s Net Zero Delivery Plan, is bringing together experts from the Facilities Directorate and the academic community alongside specialists from ANTS Drilling and engineering firm Buro Happold.

David Oldroyd, Interim Director of Development at the University of Leeds, said: “This is an exciting collaborative project, with partners from both inside and outside of the University working closely together to make positive progress.

“This work has the potential to save money, provide a more sustainable way of heating campus in line with the University’s Net Zero goals and set an example for future energy innovation.”

Pip Hunsworth, Associate Director at Buro Happold said: “I never expected when doing my undergraduate and MSc at the University of Leeds that I would be involved in a project on campus like this.

“A key part of our work involves collaborating with the academic teams to ensure the data that is obtained can be used as part of the university’s future works associated with their net zero ambitions. It’s exciting.”

Tom Beeson, Senior Engineering Geologist at Buro Happold said: “I’m very happy to be given the opportunity to be working on a renewable energy scheme in my local area. With the challenge of climate change at the forefront of Civil Engineering, we must find innovative solutions to decarbonise.”

Find out more by visiting our project page and the Sustainability team’s website.

Image credit: Ben Craven