Great green hope for heating
Tapping into earth's natural energy could save consumers €1,000 a year
Published 06/09/2010 | 05:00
A GREEN heating system is being pushed by the Government, with a promise to save consumers €1,000 a year on their bills.
A third of Swedes heat their homes by the system the Government plans to roll out nationally.
A bill is being prepared to allow developers to explore the potential for 'geothermal energy' for district heating systems and for one-off houses.
Geothermal pumps extract heat from underground. The energy is firstly pumped up before it is released in domestic hot water and heating systems.
The Cliffs of Moher interpretive centre and Ikea both use this heating system.
And Science Minister Conor Lenihan confirmed yesterday that legislation was being drafted, paving the way for widespread exploration of the method.
He said geothermal energy could be exploited in most areas of Ireland for small-scale domestic use via ground source heat pumps.
Mr Lenihan claimed that domestic consumers could save up to three-quarters of the cost of their heating bill after a seven-year period.
The minister said the saving for the customer was in the order of €1,000 a year for domestic households.
He said it cost in the region of €12,000 to instal the system in new homes.
However, the cost for retrofitting older houses could be treble this amount.
While one-third of all Swedish homes were heated by geothermal pumps, it was only installed in 8,000 houses here.
Geothermal energy is natural renewable heat, generated at the earth's core and radiating to the surface.
The earth's core is in excess of 6,000C, and heat radiates outwards from the surface into the atmosphere where it is wasted.
Harnessing geothermal energy means using this heat beneficially to meet energy demand. The usable heat most often takes the form of hot water and steam.
The energy can be reclaimed as electricity, whereby a geothermal power plant uses the steam, or heat (up to 370C), to drive turbine generators to produce it.
Mr Lenihan said that the legislation being drawn up would deal with a range of issues, such as ownership of the resource, regulation and the licensing of exploration and development.