An initial draft scheme of the Geothermal Energy Development Bill was developed in 2010 with the aim of providing a legislative framework for the vesting, licensing and regulation of the development of geothermal energy. Work on developing the draft Bill has been postponed since then until other legislative priorities have been dealt with, including the drafting, publication and enactment of the Minerals Development Act 2017. The focus of my Department’s work in this area is now on developing the necessary regulation to enable the commencement of the 2017 Act and on the transposition of the Environmental Impact Directive into Minerals Development legislation.
Once these priorities have been achieved, the proposed geothermal regulatory framework will be reviewed to ensure its compatibility with the Minerals Development legislation and underlying energy policy in the context of the 2015 Energy White Paper.
At the same time, my Department has been involved in a number of other developments in the area of deep geothermal energy. The economic assessment that underpinned the development of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat examined a range of potential heating technologies, including deep geothermal. The results of this assessment are published on my Department’s website.
My Department is also actively engaged in projects evaluating deep geothermal potential in Ireland through the Geological Survey Ireland (GSI), and is part funding an EU initiative called GeoThermica in this area. GSI also recently hosted a workshop on developments and recent research in the area of deep geothermal which attracted over 50 attendees including participants from overseas.
In addition the GSI and Enterprise Ireland business cluster, Geoscience Ireland, is a partner with agencies from France, Germany, Hungary, Spain and Turkey in an EU project on the supply of geothermal expertise to international markets. This project is being done under the EU COSME programme which is designed to enhance the competiveness of European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.