GSI was part of a geothermal energy assessment project named IRETHERM (IREland's geoTHERMal potential). The project was led by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) in collaboration with academic, government and industry partners. IRETHERM was funded by Science Foundation Ireland under SFI grant number 10/IN.1/I3022.
IRETHERM aimed to develop a strategic and holistic understanding of Ireland's geothermal energy potential through integrated modelling of new and existing geophysical and geological data.
The project studied eight different "types" of geological environments to identify those that may host geothermal resources: deep aquifers or hot, dry rock. A comprehensive suite of crustal rocks have been collected across Ireland and chemically analysed to determine their capacity for generating radiogenic heat.
New electromagnetic and gravity data were acquired in the type areas. High resolution geophysical modelling tools will be developed for imaging aquifers and granitic bodies to depths of 5 km. These innovative software tools allowed joint modelling of electromagnetic and other existing geophysical data.
The project aimed to address data gaps for evaluating Ireland's potential for geothermal energy provision for district-scale space-heating and electricity generation. Project outcomes have gone someway to assisting decision-making regarding the use of deep geothermal energy as part of Ireland's renewable energy mix, although there are still questions remaining, particularly temperatures at depth, geothermal gradients and heat fluxes.