Tuesday, 19 November 2013


The Geothermal Association of Ireland (GAI) has announced the four winners of the Brecan Mooney Installation of the Year competition for excellence in geothermal energy transfer systems.

The awards – which were presented at the GAI’s annual conference in Kilkenny on 13th November – were made to Wonder Years Childcare, Co. Donegal; Borris Lodge Nursing Home, Co. Carlow; Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Centre, Co. Clare; and Vistakon Ireland, Co. Limerick.

In presenting the awards, Chairperson of the GAI, John Burgess, said: “All of the finalists in the Brecan Mooney Installation of the Year competition have demonstrated that their geothermal energy installation achieved a marked improvement in performance compared to conventional methods. The lower operating cost has helped these businesses prosper during tough economic times. Also, the move away from fossil fuel fired heating systems to ground sourced thermal energy transfer systems powered from an electricity supply that is making major reductions in COrelated emissions as well as lowering the Primary Energy Factor for delivered electrical energy, has made a major contribution to reducing the impact of these businesses’ operations on climate change.”

“There is a clear message coming through all of the installations, in that the geothermal energy systems have helped sustain their businesses. This is true sustainability,” he said.

Geothermal energy is a renewable form of energy that uses heat stored in the ground to heat or cool buildings.

Details of the four award-winners were:

Wonder Years Childcare – Rossbrack, Manorcunningham - Co. Donegal
Heating in this warm and welcoming childcare facility is provided by a 44kW Oschner Heatpump that transfers thermal energy from a horizontal array of closed loop pipes to an underfloor heating system. An intelligent temperature control system using predictive self-learning algorithms maintains the rooms at the desired temperature while prioritising the heatpump operation during times when off-peak electricity is available. This system is saving €12,000 and 20 tonnes of CO2emissions every year when compared to oil fired heating systems.

The owners, Vincent and Marcella McNamee have suggested that a similar system should be installed in every childcare facility to allow more focus on the needs of the children.

The installers, Noel McGonigle and Neil McDaid of Diagon Eurotech Northwest, have benefited from the positive results in thermal and energy performance in this facility by securing new work in Donegal and beyond.

Borris Lodge Nursing Home – Co. Carlow

The 914m2 extension to the Borris Lodge Nursing home is heated by two 37kW Oschner Heatpumps that transfers thermal energy from an open loop well to an underfloor heating system. An intelligent temperature control system maintains the rooms at the desired temperature setpoints for different times of the day and night. This system is saving €17,000 and 42 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year when compared to oil fired heating systems.

The owners, James and Helen O’Keefe, have observed a much improved level of service for all residents with temperatures being maintained throughout day and night, while at the same time reducing their heating energy costs to one third that of similar nursing homes.

The installer, Gerard Duffy of Eurotech, is thrilled with the positive feedback from a system that continues to deliver superior performance with enormous savings 6 years after installation.

Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Centre – Co. Clare

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s centre is heated and cooled by a 160kW heat pump that transfers thermal energy from a horizontal array of closed loop pipes buried 1 meter below the surface of the ground. The building itself is largely concealed beneath the ground and there are no visible manifestations of the heating or cooling systems one is more familiar with (boiler flues and large noisy chiller units). Rooms that tend to overheat are cooled by a common system that transfers the waste heat to those rooms, or to ventilation systems without the need to use a second fuel source. This leads to a highly efficient system that saves at least €12,000 and 33tonnes of CO2 emissions every year when compared to oil fired heating and air cooled chiller systems.
The manager, Greg Davidson, and the operations team continue to improve the performance of the innovative heating and cooling system as part of an environmental strategy, befitting of the location, that also focuses on reducing water use and waste, while enhancing the experience of the ‘Cliffs’ for all visitors.

Vistakon Ireland – Co. Limerick
Vistakon Ireland has undertaken a technically challenging renewable energy project to displace 900kW of cooling from conventional chiller plant by using ground water at a stable temperature of 11.5OC. The ground water is sourced from two wells on their site and circulated through a network of pipes and heat exchangers to the major production lines where cooling of the plant takes place. On average, 66% of the ground water is also utilised for manufacturing processes, saving on costs and embodied energy in the supply of mains water. The thermal energy transfer system discharges excess water at temperatures of less than 20OC, well below the limits set by the EPA in the discharge licence. Operating conditions are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and records retained for reporting purposes. This installation operates for 8700 hours every year saving a massive 512 tonnes of CO2emissions every year.

The facility manager, Frank Curran, has commented on the major energy and water savings this installation has delivered while also improving system reliability (of operation).