Upcoming Division Talk

Enabling Deep Geothermal Development in Ireland: Challenges & Opportunities

Speaker: Rory Dunphy, M.Sc., P.Geo. 
Date: Thursday, June 9, 2022 | 12:00pm – 1:00pm (MST)

Ireland has ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Heating in Ireland accounts for over 40% of the energy utilised in the country on an annual basis, with the vast majority of that heat currently being sourced from fossil fuels. To meet these climate targets, alleviate energy security concerns, and tackle energy poverty it is vital that a reliable supply of safe, local, low carbon renewable heat energy is developed. Deep geothermal can help solve this problem. 

Shallow geothermal is well established (but underutilised) in Ireland with 208MWth of Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) capacity installed, primarily in the residential sector. However low to mid enthalpy deep geothermal resources that are used for district heating in places such as the Netherlands and France have not been developed in Ireland despite there being potential.

Ireland is not located near to any tectonic plate boundaries so geothermal resources present there are considered low to mid enthalpy within 5km depths. The subsurface of onshore Ireland consists mainly of Devonian and Carboniferous carbonate and clastic sediments, which mostly lack primary porosity. These lie unconformably on Lower Palaeozoic and Precambrian basement. Caledonian granite batholiths associated with the closing of the Iapetus Ocean are also present. While there is a lack of laterally extensive porous and permeable reservoirs a significant focus for hydrothermal geothermal exploration is likely to be concentrated in fractured carbonate reservoirs. In addition, there is potential for Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS) and Advanced Geothermal Systems (AGS) to be employed where sufficient permeability does not exist. With little history of onshore hydrocarbon exploration there is a paucity of well and seismic data with which to characterise the subsurface. More data is needed to quantify the resource potential and more exploration activity would help acquire it. 

To support this the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), is developing a policy and regulatory framework to facilitate the exploration for, and development of, geothermal energy resources. To inform this the Geological Survey Ireland, a division of DECC, has engaged Completions Geoscience Consulting to work with them on the National Geothermal Database Project. This is a multi-year project to improve understanding of geothermal resource potential in Ireland and address the principal barriers to uptake of deep geothermal - Geological uncertainty; high capital cost; lack of policy framework/ financial incentives; and a lack of public awareness about geothermal. The database is envisaged as both an online data repository and an opportunity screening tool designed to connect heat users with the information needed to assess geothermal potential at their sites.

This presentation will discuss the design phase of the National Geothermal Database project and detail some of the challenges and opportunities identified. The nature of the geothermal play types potentially present in Ireland, and the development technology choices that may best suit them, will be discussed. A brief comparison will be made to the geothermal potential in WCSB with a focus on opportunities for exchange of learnings and expertise.

Rory Dunphy is a professional geoscientist registered with APEGA and is the founder of Completions Geoscience Consulting (www.completionsgeo.com) which provides technical and management services to the geoenergy sector. Rory has an M.Sc. in geology from Trinity College Dublin and relocated to Calgary from Ireland in 2004 to work in the oil and gas industry. He spent 11 years working on Unconventional Resources in the Canadian Division of Nexen Inc. firstly as a Reservoir Characterisation specialist in geomechanics before progressing to exploration and geoscience management roles on the Aurora LNG project. In 2017 he joined the Global Exploration Division of CNOOC Nexen as the Ireland Regional Manager where he led in-country efforts in support of deepwater exploration on the Atlantic Margin. After leaving CNOOC in 2020 he returned to Calgary to set up Completions Geoscience, who in 2021 began working with the Geological Survey Ireland on a multi-year project to promote the development of geothermal in Ireland. Rory has a passion for geomechanics, natural fracture characterisation and the geology of hydraulic fracturing with a particular interest in how to leverage these areas into positively impacting development economics and gaining social acceptance for deep geothermal. He is a member of the CSPG, AAPG and SPE and a former executive committee member of the Ireland Canada Business Association.

Division Profile
Vision: to educate CSPG Members about the Global Geothermal Industry through knowledge sharing from integrated geoscientific disciplines with the goal of highlighting the highly relevant skills of hydrogeologists, petroleum geologists, mining geologists, geophysicists and geomechanics specialists.  Special focus will be given to emerging Canadian Projects.

The Division will hold a series of brown bag lunches annually.

Lunch talks will start with a “snapshot of a producing geothermal project” alternating between igneous and sedimentary plays. 
Preliminary ideas for talks in 2019-2020:
      1) Geothermal 101 – focus on play types (including igneous), the global production of geothermal energy and the uses of geothermal energy.  
      2) An overview of the nascent Canadian Geothermal Industry – focus on research and development and emerging plays 
      3) Characterization of geothermal resources – focus on key parameters for defining resources/reserves and how to determine them.  
      4) Mapping hydrothermal reservoirs or hot sedimentary aquifers – a workflow for getting started.  Highlighting the relevant skill sets of hydrogeologists and petroleum geologists (Part 1).  
      5) Spotlight on new technologies – drilling, surface facilities or subsurface and the implications for development.
      6) Geo-Modelling of geothermal reservoirs
      7) Case Studies of existing geothermal plays 

Division success is dependent on Member interest and enthusiastic volunteers with a passion for knowledge sharing.  If you have an idea for a talk please contact one of the committee members listed below. 

Click here to view presenter guidelines

Committee Members 
Jeanine Vany 
Yannick Champollion 
Committee members: 
Daniel Alonso Torres
Rochelle Longval

Geothermal Technical Division Sponsor