Geothermal heat and power could, if its potential is exploited be of great benefit to Ireland in helping the country meet is EU renewable energy targets.

Research launched by the Geological Survey of Ireland at Wednesday’s Geothermal Association of Ireland conference at the Energy Show 2016, highlighted that every location in the country has the potential to harness shallow geothermal energy using ground source heat pumps.Cliffs of Moher Visitors’ Centre in Clare - geothermal energy

Geothermal Association of Ireland chairman Ric Pasquali said geothermal energy was “one of Ireland’s hidden assets” when it comes to alternative means of heating and cooling homes and businesses.

Pasquali told the Examiner newspaper, “Ireland has an excellent source of shallow geothermal energy, which, coupled with a heat pump technology, can be used for space heating, cooling and hot water. It is also cost-efficient, returning an average consistent delivery of up to four units of heat for every unit of electricity used to power the pumps. Geothermal is also the only renewable energy source that is available 24/7, regardless of climatic conditions.”

Under binding EU targets, 16% of final energy use must be from renewable sources. This is broken down into 10% for transport, 12% for heat, and 10% for electricity.

Geothermal means can be used to heat homes, provide cooling in some applications, feed heat into district heating networks, generate power (if the geothermal resource is hot enough), or to provide therapeutic treatment in spas.

A number of buildings around the country are heated using shallow geothermal technology, including the Glucksman Gallery in Cork, the Cliffs of Moher Visitors’ Centre in Clare, and Ballyroan Library in South Dublin. However, this number needs to vastly improve if Ireland’s 2020 target is to be met.