Geothermal energy could be the “invisible key” to unlock new energy sources and help meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to Queen’s University Belfast researchers.
Professor Mark Palmer and Joseph Ireland from Queen’s University Belfast have been working on a new landmark report for the Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Geothermal Advisory Committee.
The report, “Net Zero Pathways: Building the Geothermal Energy Sector in Northern Ireland”, highlights that building the geothermal energy sector can help transition Northern Ireland towards a low-carbon future and create an emerging market.
Future geothermal energy use is considered key in decarbonising Northern Ireland’s heat sector as it is a clean and naturally occurring source of energy.
It uses the natural subsurface as a source of heat and has the potential to provide cooling and seasonal storage of energy.
Launched as part of Northern Ireland Geothermal Energy Week, the Queen’s University report offers detailed recommendations for the way forward and focuses on the confidence-building actions needed to unlock the opportunities for energy from geothermal heating and cooling.
Professor Palmer, from Queen’s Management School, comments: “Despite over 40 years of geological evidence gathering, which confirms that Northern Ireland has favourable geological conditions for geothermal activity, the findings of our report show an absence of awareness and visibility of the geothermal project activity on the ground.
“There is a real positive opportunity for portfolio-driven energy market-making here.”
Joseph Ireland, a PhD student at Queen’s and co-author of the report, said: “Geothermal technology is underdeveloped in Northern Ireland but it could be the invisible secret to unlocking the energy sources we need to help meet net zero targets by 2050.
“This report and its recommended actions highlight ways to build sector confidence, create awareness and establish the link between the potential of geothermal energy and how projects could work on the ground.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Geothermal is very much the ‘Cinderella’ of renewable technologies and I am pleased that my department’s Geological Survey of Northern Ireland has been working closely with Queen’s School of Management to inform a roadmap, ‘Building the Geothermal Energy Sector in Northern Ireland,’ to raise the profile of geothermal as a
low carbon, renewable technology.”
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