Northern Ireland’s geothermal energy sector is ‘heating up’ following launch of new £3 million project

Date published: 26 June 2023

A new multimillion pound project from the Department for the Economy (DfE) is set to explore the potential for geothermal energy in Northern Ireland.

Pictured at the launch of GeoEnergy NI (L-R) are Conor Lydon, Northern Ireland Director of Tetra Tech Europe, Marie Cowan, Director, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) and Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary, Department for the Economy (DfE).
Launch of GeoEnergy NI

A new multimillion pound project from the Department for the Economy (DfE) is set to explore the potential for geothermal energy in Northern Ireland.

The project designed to ‘unearth the heat beneath our feet’ aims to support how we decarbonise the energy sector in pursuit of net zero carbon targets by 2050.  

Launched today at the Pavilion, Stormont Estate, the project, known as GeoEnergy NI, will examine both shallow and deep geothermal at the Stormont Estate, Belfast and College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Greenmount Campus, Antrim, respectively.

Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy, said:

“GeoEnergy NI is a milestone project of the Energy Strategy Action Plan, which focuses on delivering a reduction in energy-related emissions as part of the pathway to deliver net zero carbon and affordable energy by 2050. This project will increase our understanding of the potential role that geothermal energy can play in Northern Ireland’s green economy and future energy mix.

“GeoEnergy NI has the potential to be a catalyst for growth in the geothermal sector. As a reliable, low carbon, renewable energy resource that occurs naturally within the Earth, geothermal also brings with it a host of environmental, economic, and social benefits. It will play a vital role in helping the sector to develop, increase Northern Ireland’s future security of energy supply and ensure we can maximise this valuable renewable energy source for generations to come.”

Representing a £3 million investment, GeoEnergy NI is being delivered by DfE with scientific support from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) and a specialist contractor team led by Tetra Tech Europe.

Marie Cowan, Director of GSNI, outlined the potential for geothermal energy in Northern Ireland:

“Geothermal is regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly ways of producing local, sustainable, and low-carbon energy and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whatever the weather. Geothermal energy is already used widely and successfully in many countries around the world including the Netherlands, Germany and France, and there are several significant geothermal projects currently being delivered elsewhere in the UK.

“Northern Ireland is very fortunate to have favourable geology with significant untapped potential for geothermal energy right beneath our feet. Building on our extensive data, research, and mapping to date, GeoEnergy NI will provide us with invaluable data to help us realise this potential and deepen our understanding of the subsurface even further. 

“An additional benefit of the GeoEnergy NI project is its public and stakeholder outreach campaign. Today guests were among the first to see the new website, VR headset and educational resources. A mobile visitor centre is also planned later this year to further enhance the public’s awareness and understanding of geothermal and the economic potential Northern Ireland’s geothermal sector holds.”

Conor Lydon, Northern Ireland Director of Tetra Tech Europe, a leading global provider of consulting and engineering services said:

“Working with DfE and GSNI, we are delighted to lead the consortium for the GeoEnergy NI project to help showcase the power and potential of Northern Ireland’s geothermal sector. Geothermal technology has been safely and successfully harnessed throughout the world for decades and we’re proud to bring our expertise in this sector to the project. The survey and exploratory work will use world-leading technologies and processes, safe and well-established techniques, and will be in full compliance with all local planning and environmental regulations. We have put together a strong team of experts from across the globe, all experienced in delivering geothermal projects and who have seen first-hand the tremendous benefits geothermal energy can offer.”  

To find out more about geothermal energy and to keep up to date with the GeoEnergy NI project visit GeoEnergy NI website

Notes to editors: 

  1. Geothermal energy is the heat generated and stored in the Earth and is a source of affordable, low-carbon, renewable energy. It is available throughout the world at depths from a few metres to several kilometres and can provide heat, or power, all year long independent of weather conditions.
  2. Two locations: The feasibility study for the shallow geothermal project will be based on the Stormont Estate, Belfast and aims to identify the most suitable geothermal solution to provide future heating and cooling for several pre-identified buildings on the Estate, to understand the carbon savings that could be generated and to optimise the capital expenditure and operational expenditure costs of any future geothermal heating system. Activities at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise Greenmount Campus, Antrim will involve the completion of several specialist surveys that will build a fuller picture of the underlying rocks in the area. This study will also include the identification of a potential future drill site and optimum target depths for deep geothermal solutions as well as a suitable heat recovery system for the area.
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