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IRETHERM: Ireland’s geothermal energy potential assessment

Coast in Ireland (source: flickr/
Basheer Tome, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 7 May 2014

IRETHERM, a four year academic-government-industry collaborative project across Ireland and Northern Ireland is presenting first finding of an assessment of Ireland's geothermal energy potential.

At an event this evening, The Irish Geological Association will host a presentation by Prof. Alan Jones of DIAS presenting the IRETHERM project focused on assessing Ireland’s geothermal energy potential.

“Ireland has a strategic imperative to assess all prospective sources of sustainable energy. Of the available options, there is insufficient knowledge of Ireland’s potential for geothermal energy to provide district-scale space-heating and electricity generation. Both applications require identification, exploration and exploitation of deep, porous, permeable aquifers or large-volume, hot, radiogenic granitic intrusions or of hot waters brought to surface along fault systems. Advances in utilizing medium-temperature (110–150°C) groundwaters offer real opportunities for electricity generation within the upper range of geothermal gradients observed in Ireland (~25°C/km), provided deep (4–5 km) source regions can be identified.

IRETHERM is a four-and-a-half year, all-island, North-South, academic-government-industry collaborative project between DIAS, UCD, UCC, NUIG, GSI, GSNI, SLR Consulting, GT Energy and Providence Resources to develop a strategic and holistic understanding of Ireland’s geothermal energy potential through integrated modelling of new and existing geophysical and geological data.

High-resolution geophysical modelling tools are being constructed for imaging aquifers and granitic bodies in the depth range 0–5 km. The new tools will be tested on “type” geothermal targets with a comprehensive program of electromagnetic field-surveys to identify those geological settings/localities that present the greatest opportunity for significant geothermal energy provision.

New borehole temperature and heat-flow measurements and analyses of radiogenic element compositions of an island-wide suite of multi-depth crustal samples will be used to derive the first 3-D model of Irish crustal heat-production. Thermal variations modelled using these new crustal heat-production constraints with existing constraints on lithospheric structure will determine the origin of the regional variation in heat-flow and identify high-temperature anomalies at upper-crustal levels for immediate and future targeting.

IRETHERM is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through a Principle Investigator grant to Professor Alan G. Jones of DIAS.”

Source: Irish Geological Association