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Old September 23rd, 2010, 11:49 AM   #1
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Plans for Ireland's first geothermal generator

Plans for Ireland's first geothermal generator
Thursday, 23 September 2010 07:14

A planning application has been lodged with South Dublin County Council to construct Ireland's first geothermal electricity generation plant.

The company behind the project, GT Energy, says its proposed facility at Newcastle could provide enough electricity to power for 8,000 homes.

Geothermal energy involves extracting hot water and steam from the earth's core by drilling boreholes deep underground - a technology widely used in places like Iceland.

Now GT Energy wants to develop a geothermal plant in Newcastle, south Dublin - test drilling started in 2007, and investigative work resumed earlier this year.

If the project secures planning and licences, drilling of the wells will begin early next year, with generation starting in 2012.

Padraig Hanly of GT Energy estimates the development will cost around €30m and says the company is receiving technical assistance from ESB International.

Story from RTÉ News:
Permission sought for geothermal plant


Thu, Sep 23, 2010

AN IRISH energy company is seeking planning permission for the country’s first facility for generating electricity from heat produced beneath the earth’s surface.

GT Energy yesterday applied to South Dublin County Council for planning permission for a €30 million geothermal energy electricity plant.

The company wants to build the plant at Greenogue Business Park in Newcastle, Co Dublin. It will be capable of generating up to four megawatts (MW) of electricity, which GT Energy said yesterday would be enough to supply power to 8,000 three-bedroom homes.

The plant will operate by harnessing heat trapped about 4km below the earth’s surface. Water is pumped to the heat source through bore holes. The steam generated through this system is then used to drive turbines to generate electricity.

According to GT Energy managing director Pádraig Hanly, the facility will cost about €30 million to build.

The cost is high in comparison to the investment needed for conventional and other renewable energy sources. However, Mr Hanly said the Dublin facility would essentially be a research and development project, and would therefore need more capital than future plants.

GT ultimately plans to generate up to 50MW of electricity by 2020 from plants at various sites that it has identified around Ireland.

The company has operations in Ireland and Britain. Recently, it signed a partnership deal with ESB subsidiary ESB International which will assist it in the design of generating equipment and with connecting its plants to the national grid.

In April GT Energy raised €1 million from investors in a fund-raising managed by stockbroker NCB. It also got €600,000 in grants from Ballymena Borough Council in Co Antrim. The grant was given to support its work on developing a district heating system for Ballymena.

© 2010 The Irish Times
Excellent news - about time something like this was done.

I wonder can they also use it for large-scale geothermal heating systems, like in Iceland? If they can, they should definitely try it.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 04:34 PM   #2
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There is a limit to how much you can generate with Geothermal though. The heat source is Iceland is much closer to the surface (as it's a very volcanic area) so that's why it's far bigger and more successful there.

In Ireland (and also the UK) because they have to drill much deeper boreholes, that's a barrier for it being used large scale - it just wouldn't be safe or feasible to drill large enough or numerous enough boreholes for it.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 06:42 PM   #3
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Correct, however the plans are to be welcomed. Ireland as an island needs to focus on energy generation that is localised and makes use of the immense amount of natural power that exists, especially around the coast.

Capitalising on that will deliver improved energy security, cheaper electricity and less dependence on imported fuels.
Anyone that lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination - Oscar Wilde

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Old September 24th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #4
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The best natural resources for Ireland (and the UK) to exploit are tidal, wave and wind power - all three of which the island has bucket loads.

Wind is fairly well developed but also unpopular in certain areas and there can be problems with using it for a regular supply. Wave and Tidal are far more reliable but the industry is much less developed so this, in my opinion, is what both Ireland and the UK should be seriously developing to become a world leader in this.

Small local Geothermal plants can be used to generate heating and hot water for communities alongside other renewable sources like in Woodbrook eco-Village in Belfast which uses a biomass plant to heat just under 400 homes, saving them about 60% on their fuel bills, but I don't think they'd be suitable for large scale energy generation in this country.
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