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Minister Ryan publishes Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy

Draft Policy Statement outlines potential of geothermal energy – for heating and cooling buildings and for generating electricity


The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has today (28th December) published a Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy. The Draft Statement delivers on the Roadmap for Geothermal Energy published in November 2020.


Geothermal energy is not only renewable; it is also secure, reliable and local. It can be used for heating and cooling buildings and for generating electricity. Advances in technology, proven over the past decade, mean that geothermal energy can now play a significant role in our transition to a carbon neutral and circular economy.


The publication of this Draft Policy Statement supports the first Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy launched earlier this month and will raise awareness of the exciting potential of this renewable energy. It is an important step in addressing the barriers to the development of geothermal energy in Ireland.


A public consultation on the Draft Policy Statement will formally gather the views of the public and key stakeholders, such as environmental groups, geoscientists and engineers, and potential operators of geothermal energy projects.


The final Policy Statement will outline the regulatory framework. It will also highlight the requirement for meaningful engagement with the public and for further work in the collection of data on Ireland’s geothermal resources. Further research will also be needed for a better understanding of the economics of geothermal energy projects. Together, these elements will help ensure we realise Ireland’s geothermal energy potential.


Minister Ryan said: “Engagement with the public, community groups, industry and academia is critically important to developing our geothermal potential. I would encourage all interested parties to engage in this public consultation. It is an important step in addressing the barriers to the development of geothermal energy in Ireland.”


The Draft Policy Statement is available to view/download at this link:


Observations on the Draft Policy Statement can be submitted by email to: until 1st March 2022. All submissions will be considered in finalising the Policy Statement.


Information sessions and other consultative events will be organised for February 2022. Details will be available on:






What is geothermal energy?

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 (and the amount of available geothermal energy) increases with depth, at an estimated average rate of 21°C per kilometre in Ireland.

Advances in technology have led to the development of geothermal resources for heating and/or electricity production in places away from the volcanic regions where the heat is easily accessible (i.e. Iceland; Italy; New Zealand) to where the heat flow is not particularly elevated (i.e. France; Netherlands; Belgium; UK; Germany). Geothermal energy could be a viable, significant source of renewable energy in Ireland.


The Draft Policy Statement on Geothermal Energy for a Circular Economy follows the publication, in November 2020, by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, of 'An Assessment of Geothermal Energy for District Heating in Ireland' and 'Geothermal Energy in Ireland - A Roadmap for a Policy and Regulatory Framework'.


Geothermal energy is a commercially proven and renewable form of energy that can be used for heating, cooling, electricity production, or for both heat and power generation combined.


Understanding the potential of geothermal energy


The geothermal potential of Ireland is not yet fully understood. This is because we don’t yet know enough about the deep subsurface; more research is needed. However, Irish geothermal energy resources could be used for a variety of purposes. The best way to capture and use geothermal energy will depend on the local geological setting and ultimate use for the energy.


The different types of geothermal technologies that could be deployed in Ireland will have different characteristics that the regulatory framework outlined in the Draft Policy Statement will respond to in a way that is proportionate. Further information resources will be made available so that these technologies can be widely understood.


The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI’s) National Heat Study has found that 38% of all energy consumption in Ireland is used for heat. Oil, gas and solid fuels are still the primary means for heat generation. In energy terms, this equates to 55,230GWh of energy annually. Emissions from the heat sector were responsible for 12.6 Million tonnes of carbon equivalent (MT CO2) in 2019.


New analysis and insights on district heating and geothermal energy from the SEAI’s work on its Heat Study suggest that up to 54% of domestic, commercial and public sector demand for heating in Ireland could be met by District Heating and that geothermal energy will be an important source of heat.


To achieve our climate action goals over the medium and longer term (2030 and 2050) and in the framework of national policy on Climate Action, targets may be set for geothermal energy. This will require further work, beyond the regulatory framework for licencing set out in the Draft Policy Statement, based on better geothermal data and a better understanding the economics of geothermal energy projects.


Over time, the ambition is that geothermal energy will also be considered within the framework of national policy and strategies on renewable energy, energy security and energy poverty.