University of Galway invests in safe geothermal project

galway daily news geotherman project works at university of galway

University of Galway has embarked on a geothermal heat pump project on campus to heat the swimming pool in the Sports Centre.

Works began in September on the lawn in front of the Alice Perry Engineering Building with 18 boreholes for a network of underground pipes as part of a ground-air heat pump system.

The University campus is already part of Galway’s decarbonisation zone, which is targeting a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and to decarbonise the campus by 2050.

The ground source heat pump system is being developed and operated as a pilot in the European Union Horizon 2020 project GEOFIT.

GEOFIT will extract heat from the ground and feed two heat pumps to generate hot water which will be carried through an existing district heating network of underground pipes to warm the University swimming pool in the Sports Centre.

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of University of Galway, said: “With this investment, University of Galway is demonstrating that our values of sustainability and excellence are embedded not only in our research and education but also in how we operate as a campus.

“Our students were to the fore in pressing the case for sustainability and securing a clean, green and efficient energy source for our Sports Centre. GEOFIT is an important stepping stone on our decarbonisation journey.”

Assistant Professor Marcus Keane and his colleague Luis Blanes said that the GEOFIT pilot will provide an invaluable asset for the scientific community in Ireland and Europe.

“Like never before, we will be able to understand the long term performance and potential of ground source energy and plan how much energy we can harness from natural and renewable sources that include the ground and ambient air.”

The GEOFIT project will capture, process and monitor data relating to the performance of the geothermal heat pump system for at least 5 years, utilising an advanced, innovative Fibre Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing System in collaboration with Ireland’s Geological Survey Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland’s iCRAG Geosciences Research Centre.