Ireland powers up for geothermal energy


23 Sep 2010

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GT Energy, a geothermal energy company exploring the potential for a geothermal energy plant in Newcastle, south Co Dublin, has lodged a planning application with South Dublin County Council in the hopes of constructing Ireland’s first geothermal electricity facility.

GT Energy says the proposed facility at Newcastle could provide up to 4 megawatts of electricity – powering up to 8,000 homes – which would be fed directly into the grid.

If the project applications are successful, GT says the drilling of the wells will commence early next year, with the plant scheduled to be operational in 2012.

GT Energy commenced its investigation into the potential for geothermal resources in Ireland in 2006 and a year later began a three-phase drilling and data collection plan.

The development’s estimated cost is around €30m and the energy company says it is receiving technical assistance from ESB International.

Energy Development Bill

There is no legislation regulating geothermal energy at present and earlier this month Minister for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan TD confirmed the Government is drafting a Geothermal Energy Development Bill, expected to be tabled in October.

“This bill will continue the process of moving Ireland towards a sustainable energy environment. Geothermal energy is natural renewable heat that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels to heat our homes and businesses … It is also an important step towards reaching the challenging target set by the EU of delivering 16pc of our energy from renewable sources by 2020,” said Lenihan.

If passed, the law will create a regulatory framework for the sector and deal with matters such as resource ownership, licensing of exploration and development rights and third-party protection.

GT Energy has operations in both the UK and Iceland and the energy source is the “cleanest, most stable, probably cheapest source of renewable energy in Europe,” according to Icelandic foreign minister Össur Skarphéðins.