Permission sought for geothermal plant


AN IRISH energy company is seeking planning permission for the country’s first facility for generating electricity from heat produced beneath the earth’s surface.

GT Energy yesterday applied to South Dublin County Council for planning permission for a €30 million geothermal energy electricity plant.

The company wants to build the plant at Greenogue Business Park in Newcastle, Co Dublin. It will be capable of generating up to four megawatts (MW) of electricity, which GT Energy said yesterday would be enough to supply power to 8,000 three-bedroom homes.

The plant will operate by harnessing heat trapped about 4km below the earth’s surface. Water is pumped to the heat source through bore holes. The steam generated through this system is then used to drive turbines to generate electricity.

According to GT Energy managing director Pádraig Hanly, the facility will cost about €30 million to build.

The cost is high in comparison to the investment needed for conventional and other renewable energy sources. However, Mr Hanly said the Dublin facility would essentially be a research and development project, and would therefore need more capital than future plants.

GT ultimately plans to generate up to 50MW of electricity by 2020 from plants at various sites that it has identified around Ireland.

The company has operations in Ireland and Britain. Recently, it signed a partnership deal with ESB subsidiary ESB International which will assist it in the design of generating equipment and with connecting its plants to the national grid.

In April GT Energy raised €1 million from investors in a fund-raising managed by stockbroker NCB. It also got €600,000 in grants from Ballymena Borough Council in Co Antrim. The grant was given to support its work on developing a district heating system for Ballymena.