PLANS to drill a deep geothermal well below Aberdeen to heat local homes and businesses would unlock massive quantities of pollution-free energy, campaigners claim.

As government-funded report suggests that a demonstration scheme which would tap into high temperatures found miles underground could help position the area as a global energy hub, WWF Scotland has called all political parties to commit to plans to bring clean and affordable warmth to thousands of households and businesses.

It has been claimed the "fracking free" plan to drill a deep geothermal well below the city also has the potential to cushion the economic blow from the crisis in the North Sea and highlight the potential from this form of energy for the rest of the UK.

The proposal comes on the back of recent claims by Prime Minister David Cameron that Icelandic volcanoes could pipe power to homes across the UK via a a subsea cable.

Iceland gets 95 per cent of its electricity from geothermal or renewable hydro sources.

But rather than import from Iceland, the new report said Scotland should tap into its own geothermal sources as part of a national push for more renewable energy.

Welcoming the proposal, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "Thanks to the growth in renewables and the closure of fossil-fuel power stations, Scotland is well on its way to de-carbonising its electricity system.

"Sadly, the same cannot be said for how we heat our homes, businesses and water - with just 3 per cent of that heat coming from renewable sources.

"Along with other technologies, geothermal schemes like that being proposed in Aberdeen offer the chance to tap into large quantities of pollution-free energy and should be encouraged."

Report author Iain Stewart, professor of geoscience communication at Plymouth University, said installing a deep geothermal single well (DGSW) at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre would cost somewhere between £1.5million and £2.5milion and would supply the venue and nearby homes with low-carbon heat.

He said: "If we are to make deep geothermal happen in Scotland and across the UK, we need to attract potential investors. I consider that the low-risk, low-cost DGSW provides that commercial investment platform and opportunity.

"This is a great chance to move to decarbonised heat supply from the earth from academic speculation to commercial reality."

Aberdeen is one of five areas where geothermal feasibility studies have been backed by the Scottish Government, with the others at Guardbridge in Fife, Polkemmet in West Lothian, Hartwood in North Lanarkshire and Hill of Banchory in Aberdeenshire.

The DGSW involves a 1.2mile vertical well drilled and cased with standard oil and gas equipment. Hot water is drawn through a pipe from the bottom and heat is extracted from the water via a heat exchanger, with enough to heat around 200 homes.