Geothermal could be ‘key’ to unlocking new energy sources, NI report says

The QUB researchers said geothermal energy is in the “early niche development phase” and suggested ways to build a “market scaffold” to grow the industry.

Geothermal energy could be the “invisible key” to unlocking new sources of energy and helping Northern Ireland reach its net-zero emissions goals, according to a new report from researchers at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).

The report says geothermal energy could play a key role in decarbonising the heat sector in Northern Ireland, as it is a clean and natural source of energy. He added that this energy can be used for both heating and cooling.

Geothermal energy is the harnessing of thermal energy from within the Earth.

The report noted that geothermal energy source “flows” can be activated with geothermal heat pumps or through direct use systems for domestic and business users. For larger network deployments, the geothermal heat source can be configured and integrated with existing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing options.

The report also states that this energy sector is in an “early niche development phase” in Northern Ireland. It thus highlighted confidence-building actions to set up “the scaffolding of the market” while highlighting flagship geothermal projects.

“There is a real positive opportunity here for portfolio-driven energy market building,” said Professor Mark Palmer of QUB’s Management School.

“Despite more than 40 years of collecting geological evidence, which confirms that Northern Ireland has favorable geological conditions for geothermal activity, the findings of our report show a lack of awareness and visibility of the activity. of the geothermal project on the ground.”

The report called on the geothermal community to help build a niche strategy and engage in “upstream nudge activity as well as downstream presentation of heat decarbonization.”

The report, titled Net Zero Pathways: Building the Geothermal Energy Sector in Northern Ireland, was prepared for the Department of Economics and the Geothermal Advisory Committee. It was launched as part of Northern Ireland Geothermal Energy Week.

Northern Ireland Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has described geothermal energy as the ‘Cinderella’ of renewable technologies and said this energy source could be linked to a wider energy strategy for the region .

“We are already at the forefront of technology around wind power, and we will reinforce it with other technologies such as green hydrogen. Thus, not only will we be self-sufficient, but we will be able to export these zero carbon technologies, locally created and manufactured,” added Lyons.

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