Geothermal district heating from a former coal mine, Heerlen, The Netherlands


The Dutch city of Heerlen uses heat energy stored in old mineshafts for the heating and cooling of buildings. The last miner left the mines in Heerlen in 1976. Since then the former mineshafts have been filled with geothermally heated ground water, which has a different temperature at different depths and can therefore be used for both - heating and cooling. Part of the mine water project is the multifunctional complex Heerlerheide Centrum, where five shops, a conference room and a café are connected to a heating and cooling network. Heating and cooling is delivered by water running through an embedded hydraulic piping system under the floor. A supermarket delivers heat for the purpose of heat recovery.

Results and impacts

  • Estimated population involved: 3,500
  •  Approx. energy saving: 116 MWh/y electricity and 7,118 MWh/y heating 
  • Approx. energy from RES: 3,399 MWh/y electricity and 13,885 MWh/y heating

Aims and objectives of this sustainable energy action

Heerlen suffered from many typical post mining problems. Almost everything from the mining past is destroyed, which causes a severe loss of identity. A new identity is now found in new clean and green energy. The use of old mines for new energy is a physical visualisation of this transition.

Technical and financial implementation

A new district heating grid uses water at a constant temperature of 22o C from the mines, used water is pumped back into the mineshafts. No further increase in the temperature of the mine water is needed. The water runs through an embedded hydraulic piping system under the floor of the Heerlerheide Centrum, a new multifunctional complex for residential use, which also contains a library, a supermarket, a conference room and a café.

Solar cells will also be integrated into the buildings, in window shades that will move according to the position of the sun.

Lessons learnt

The community of Heerlen demonstrates the use of water from abandoned mines for the heating and cooling of buildings. The system is based on low energy principles, and is facilitated by an integrated design of buildings and energy concepts. They will realize 50 to 100% CO2 reduction and 60% increase in energy supply from RES compared with standard national practices. 


  • Cauberg-Huygen R.I. (CHRI), Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV, The Netherlands
  • Heerlen Council, The Netherlands
  • Weller Wonen, The Netherlands
  • Rijksgebouwendienst, The Netherlands
  • Climate Alliance, EU
  • Euracom, EU
  • LowExNet repr. by Fraunhofer Institute, Germany

Contact details

Christion Cornips, Weller
+31 (0) 45 404 86 00