Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena powers ahead with geothermal energy

By Linda Stewart

Ballymena could become the first town in Ireland to be powered by energy sourced from deep beneath the earth’s crust.

The town is pressing ahead with plans to harness deep geothermal energy and use it to power a clean, green district heating system for the town.

Ballymena Borough Council has joined forces with Irish geothermal energy company GT Energy to push the scheme forward. Yesterday it announced the formation of a strategic alliance to develop the geothermal-led district heating energy system for the Co Antrim town.

Not only would the project see the two groups collaborate on developing a new integrated heating network throughout the town using geothermal energy, but they will build a biomass system that will supplement the network heat demand during peak load periods and for back-up purposes.

It’s expected that larger commercial and industrial heat users will be the first to link up to the renewable energy system, followed by the roll-out of the network to smaller commercial premises and residents.

Maurice Watterson, director of building control services with the council, said: “This project will provide greater access to clean energy and has potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the borough while reducing energy costs. Employment will also be created in the area during construction phase.

“Having examined a similar project in Germany we believe this initiative will position Ballymena as one of the first towns in Ireland to harness this sustainable and environmentally friendly energy source.”

Leo Crawford, CEO of GT Energy, added: “Since we first highlighted Ballymena’s potential for geothermal development to the council we have been very impressed with its vision and active interest in partnering with us in developing this renewable energy project.

“We have been equally encouraged by the positive reaction of some of the town’s existing large commercial and industrial heat users who potentially would be interested in connecting to the network. Longer term, the intention would be to roll out the network to smaller commercial heat users and residential customers throughout the town.”

Geothermal energy is a renewable and sustainable energy source generated from the heat in the earth’s core. It is harnessed by extracting hot water from deep underground and distributing it through a heating network to heat users.

Although already widely used around the world in countries such as Iceland, the US, Italy, France and Germany, to date no deep geothermal projects have been completed in the Republic or Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph