Geothermal energy is the heat beneath the surface of solid earth. It can be stored heat from the sun, or heat from the Earth’s core. In general, the temperature of the earth in Ireland (and the amount of available geothermal energy) increases with depth, at an estimated average rate of 21 °C per kilometre. Geothermal energy is not only renewable, it is also secure, reliable, and local.
Geothermal energy has been used for a very long time in volcanic regions such as in Iceland, Italy and New Zealand. Advances in technology mean that geothermal energy can now be used in Ireland for heating and cooling buildings, and possibly even to produce electricity. Geothermal energy is now being used in non-volcanic countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and Germany.
The final policy statement will set out the approach to regulating the exploration for and the ‘capture’, or ‘harnessing’, of geothermal energy as a natural resource. It will also set out the approach to be taken in engaging with the public, providing information resources and gathering data and bridging gaps in knowledge.
The engagement of the public in finalising this draft policy, before it is proposed to the Government, will help deliver a regulatory regime that is robust, transparent and enhances the environment. The policy statement will be finalised with the help of a Geothermal Energy Advisory Group. Its work will be informed by submissions received on this draft document.
Subsequent work will include understanding the pathways for geothermal energy projects to contribute to our climate goals and how to compare these projects to other forms of renewable energy.
There are different ways to capture geothermal energy. Some of these technologies are already being used in Ireland, from small systems for single houses to larger systems used in industrial and retail buildings. Higher output, more complex systems that are being used in other countries may also be delivered in Ireland. The regulatory framework should respond proportionately to the different types of geothermal systems.
Geothermal energy projects will have to be delivered in full compliance with all environmental protection law, including the public’s rights to information and participation in decision making processes in line with the Aarhus Convention.
This draft policy statement proposes an approach to the regulatory framework that will:
1. Give certainty regarding the ownership and use of geothermal energy
2. Create a process for licencing the exploration for and harnessing of geothermal energy resources
3. Create a system of reporting on geothermal projects
4. Integrate with existing environmental, health and safety and planning regulatory frameworks
Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy
In accordance with EU Directive 2001/42/EC and the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programme) Regulations 2004 (SI 435 of 2004), as amended, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has been carried out on the Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy, and its findings are presented in an Environmental Report.
The emerging Draft Policy Statement was screened for Strategic Environmental Assessment and the next stage of SEA involved consultation on the Scoping for the Environment Report, which informed the preparation of this Environmental Report.
SEA environmental report for the draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy
In accordance with European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations, 2011 (S.I. No. 477), as amended, the Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy was also screened for Appropriate Assessment.
The emerging Draft Policy Statement was screened for Appropriate Assessment.
Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy Appropriate Assessment Screening Report
the Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy
the Environmental Report prepared as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process
the Natura Impact Statement prepared as part of the Appropriate Assessment process
All submissions are welcome and will be considered in finalising the Policy Statement.
The closing date for submissions is 5.30pm 1 March 2022
Submissions should be marked Consultation on Geothermal Policy and sent by email to GSPD@decc.gov.ie
or by post to:
Geoscience Policy Division
Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications
29-31 Adelaide Road
Dublin, D02 X285
Due to current working arrangements associated with COVID-19, if you are unable to access the documents using the links below and require assistance, please write or email us using the details above.
Online events to provide information on the contents of these three documents, and how to make a submission as part of this consultation, will be held in February. Details will be posted here.
We are committed to engaging with stakeholders in a clear, open and transparent manner. Any person or organisation can make a submission in relation to this consultation. All submissions and feedback will be considered before the final version of the Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy is published.
Please note that responses to this consultation are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 (FOI), Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007-2018 (AIE) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Please also note that we intend to publish the contents of all submissions received to this consultation on our website. Please indicate in your response whether you are submitting a response in a personal capacity or on behalf of an organisation. We will redact personal data prior to publication. There will be no redaction of contact information or names in submissions from an organisation. In responding to this consultation, parties should clearly indicate where their responses contain personal information, commercially sensitive information or confidential information which they would not wish to be released under FOI, AIE or otherwise published.
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which is available on our website and explains how and when we collect personal data, why we do so and how we treat this information. It also explains your rights in relation to the collection of personal information and how you can exercise those rights.