Geothermal Electricity Generation comes to Ireland

By Simon Kent - 18 Feb 2011 13:25:0 GMT
Geothermal Electricity Generation comes to Ireland

The initial go-ahead has been given for Ireland to create its first geothermal power plant.

Ireland's first geothermal electricity generating station has been given planning permission. The station will be operated by Newcastle Energy Limited while the scoping and planning application has been carried out by environmental consulting company SLR.

The final development, located at Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, County Dublin will consist of two wells approximately 4000 metres deep. These will be used for the extraction and re-injection of natural hot geothermal water. The heat from this water will operate a generation plant capable of delivering 4.5 megawatts of electricity into the National Grid.

Geothermal electricity generation is in operation in 24 countries worldwide and while it offers a more dependable source of power than solar and wind - since it keys into the constant energy coming from within the earth rather than the inconsistent energy from the elements around the planet - it is limited geographically to areas where access to geothermal sources in possible. In general this mean siting the generation plant in a location where the earth's crust may be thinner.

Geothermal heating has been used throughout history - most notably, perhaps, by the Romans for their public baths and hypocaust heating systems. Today, the United States lead the world in geothermal electricity production with 3,086 MW of installed capacity from 77 power plants.

Newcastle Energy Limited, the company behind Ireland's new resource is a stand-alone company, a subsidiary of GT Energy, set up to develop the geothermal energy potential around this location. GT is the first company in Ireland to complete a comprehensive exploration of this energy resource and the technology introduced here is similar to that already in use across Europe.

According to Tim Paul, SLR's managing director in Ireland, bringing the initiative to this stage has required careful consideration and forward planning: ''The comprehensive scoping and pre-planning consultation carried out in conjunction with Newcastle Energy Ltd, together with the high quality of the application documentation combined to ensure a successful planning decision in a very short time frame,'' he said.