A CONSORTIUM of businesses and academics has been formed in the north to explore and develop deep geothermal energy projects.
Northern Ireland has a naturally high level of geothermal activity, with unique areas above hot granite that generate natural heat, offering some of the best potential for renewable geothermal energy in the UK.
Geothermal NI is made up of MJM Renewables (part of the MJM Group in Newry), Arup, Queen’s University and Geothermal Engineering Ltd.
And it is expected to bring forward projects which provide 100 per cent renewable energy to homes and businesses as soon as next year.
Geothermal is a clean, sustainable, naturally occurring source of energy and is seen as another opportunity to decarbonise power and heat networks and support the drive for net zero carbon emissions.
It utilises natural heat underneath the ground to heat fresh water and create steam which can then be used to produce green electricity.
The process has already been proven in the UK and is used widely in countries like New Zealand, Iceland and Germany.
The Department for the Economy, which last week published its Energy Strategy, has already established a geothermal advisory committee to provide advice and guidance on the availability of geothermal energy to help decarbonise the heat network.
Geothermal NI (www.geothermalni.com) says it sees deep geothermal energy in the region playing a key role in the fight against climate change, while also attracting high skilled jobs and economic investment.
The key participants insist deep geothermal represents an untapped opportunity in Northern Ireland and say they are delighted to be playing their part in bringing together those in research, engineering and geothermal development.
Dr Ryan Law from Geothermal Engineering said: “Hand in hand with the roll-out of wind and solar power, we must think about the provision of baseload energy to make sure our energy supply is consistent.
“Geothermal power is 24/7 and can play a valuable part in helping us reach not only our renewable energy imperatives but will also play a valuable role in ensuring our energy security for years to come.”