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Absence of legislative framework proves major hurdle for geothermal development in Ireland

Ballinskellgs Bay, County Kerry, Ireland (source: katiejay.wordpress)
Alexander Richter 18 Sep 2019

With a lack of a legislative framework for geothermal exploration in Ireland and development and likely other reasons as well, Irish hydrocarbon exploration company Providence Resources puts geothermal plans on hold. The company had considered an offshore project.

Irish hydrocarbon exploration company Providence Resources puts geothermal plans on hold as reported by the Irish Examiner last week. CEO Tony O’Reilly Jr stated that one of the main reason was the absence of a geothermal legislative framework.

Speaking after Providence’s AGM in Dublin last week Tony O’Reilly Jr said: “Geothermal energy is really interesting. The problem is there’s got to be some legislative frameworks put in place to be able to do things like that; likewise around carbon sequestration …. I’d be interested in the long term, but we’re many years away before having actual legislation to allow these things to happen. ”

Providence Resources founded its renewable business division Providence Renewables DAC as an adjunct to its chief business of oil and gas exploration, with a partial focus on geothermal energy exploitation from offshore Irish licences.

News site Independent.ie reported last year December on the conceptual plans for geothermal exploitation in the area Dunquin North, off the coast of western Ireland. It stated that Providence Resources, was looking for oil in this area, but found only residual amounts. The possibility to produce geothermal heat presented new opportunities to exploit subsurface resources in that area, according to the site.

Development of Irish legislative and regulatory frameworks have been discussed since 2008, according to the 2019 Ireland country update that was published on the European Geothermal Conference in Den Haag last June. The article further states that draft Heads of the Bill were already completed in July 2010 and have been submitted to the Government for approval. In addition, the Department Communication Climate Action & Environment White Paper ‘Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030’ makes provisions for the establishment of a regulatory framework to facilitate geothermal exploitation and exploration.

We thank Cees Willems of the University of Glasgow for the article.