AECOM appointed to deliver UK Geoenergy Observatory in Cheshire

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Global infrastructure consulting firm AECOM has been appointed to deliver the £8.3million UK Geoenergy Observatory in Cheshire.

The British Geological Survey appointed AECOM following a competitive tender.

The Cheshire Observatory in the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park will provide scientists with at-scale test facilities that can be used to optimise and de-risk a range of subsurface energy technologies, including geothermal energy. They will increase the UK’s research and innovation in low-carbon energy supply and storage, supporting the transition to net zero for the UK.

AECOM will begin construction of the observatory in summer 2022. Scientists will be on site throughout the build to collect valuable environmental data.

The observatory comprises 21 100m-boreholes equipped with a range of subsurface technologies, including borehole heat exchangers for heating and cooling of the subsurface, advanced sensors for 3D imaging of subsurface processes in real-time, and equipment for multilevel groundwater monitoring and hydraulic control.

Rachel Dearden, project manager at UK Geoenergy Observatories said: “The award of the construction contract marks an exciting milestone for the UK Geoenergy Observatories project.

“AECOM will now start constructing the facility, working closely with scientists to ensure that critical scientific data is collected as the boreholes are drilled.

“As part of the build, AECOM will deliver a range of benefits for the local community around the site, from using local subcontractors where possible to delivering education and skills training.

“Green construction principles will be embedded in the process. AECOM will use alternative energy sources like using vegetable oil, solar power or hybrid or full electric to power welfare, plant and machinery.

“The Cheshire Observatory will be a place where developers of geoenergy supply and storage technologies can work together to create high-performance systems and understand how these interact with the subsurface environment.”

Patrick Cox, business unit director for environmental solutions, AECOM, said: “The Cheshire Observatory will play a critical role in the UK’s energy transition, facilitating research that will further our understanding of sub-surface energy storage and geothermal energy.

“Our team brings specialist technical knowledge to the delivery of the observatory and will work with our trusted supply chain to construct the scheme.

“At the forefront of efforts to advance the supply of clean energy at scale and reach net zero, the project strongly aligns with our ambitious environmental, social and governance strategy Sustainable Legacies.

“We look forward to working with UK Geoenergy Observatories to deliver this world-class decarbonisation research and innovation facility.”

The Cheshire Observatory is one of two facilities being delivered as part of the £31million UK Geoenergy Observatory programme. The Glasgow Observatory is already operational and providing open access data for scientists and researchers around the world.

Stakeholders from industry and academia who want to find out more about the Cheshire Observatory and the research opportunities on-site can attend the upcoming workshop on Monday 23 May.

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