GEOFIT WORKSHOPS: Galway & Aran Islands

At the end of January we held two workshops in Ireland linked to two of our pilot sites, one located in Galway and the other in the Aran Islands. These pilot sites have different characteristics and represent different challenges for the demonstration of our project. In this post we will talk about the development of the workshops, as well as these two pilot sites, so that they can be better known.


The first workshop, held on January 24th, took place in Galway. The pilot site in question, where Geofit’s innovative geothermal systems will be installed to increase energy efficiency, is the Kingfisher Sports Centre in Galway. In the swimming pool in particular we want to demonstrate that heat pumps can be used to reduce carbon emissions and connect to the grid as flexible assets.

It should be noted that this location has not had any retrofitting works in the past.

As for the first workshop held for this demonstration site in Galway, it was conducted following the Integrated Design and Delivery Solutions approach to support and strengthen collaborative work with identified local stakeholders.

The objective of this workshop was to establish a communication channel with local stakeholders and include them in the different phases of the project’s life cycle. Therefore, in this first stage, our aim was to gather information about the existing building and get a clearer idea of the HVAC system they have – and also the problems they have – in order to take their needs and requirements into consideration when designing the enhanced geothermal system that best fits the existing facilities.

Regarding the discussion,  stakeholders were informed during the workshop that the objective of Geofit and its enhanced geothermal systems developed and deployed for building retrofitting is to achieve a better energy performance of the building.

NUIG provided a great deal of useful information and made pertinent observations like the fact that the underfloor radiant heaters and the wall mounted radiators might be negligible for our project or that there is the possibility of decommissioning the CHP and connecting with the engineering building CHP district network.

It was also evidenced that the space available for placing the heat pump in the engine room close to the swimming pool is scarce, but heat pump dimensions are needed to determine the best spot, also from a technical point of view.

As the existing HEX has 460 kW, NUIG presented different alternatives to couple the geothermal system with the existing one (CHP unit + 2 gas boilers), but a question was raised during the workshop: does it make sense to switch off the CHP unit? CHP is one of the most efficient systems, as it generates heat and electricity at the same time; however, rough cost estimations must be done in order to balance if it is feasible to switch off the CHP system and installing the GSHP in order to generate heat needed for heating the swimming pool water. Two aspects will have to be considered if installing the GSHP: as we won’t produce electricity, we will have to pay for the electricity needed in the facility, and also we will have to keep the cost of the gas consumed by the boilers.

Soon we will determine what the current demand is and make an estimate according to the data, and we will also decide where to do the drilling. NUIG’s proposal was to do it in the back side of the building, which would entail a long connection to the heat pump, but seems quite feasible. Finally, we will do the profit calculation taking into account the replacement of CHP and the replacement of gas boilers.

As a conclusion, we would say that one option would be to replace the gas boilers with the GSHP, produce the base load during the night period and study the peaks during the day to optimize the use of both CHP and Geofit GSHP. We will also need to install a buffer!



The next day, on January 25th, we conducted a second workshop in the Aran Islands with the stakeholders of this pilot site, which is located in the beautiful residential housing site of Killeaney  Cottages.

From 12.00 to 17.00 we visited several houses of the pilot site, and from 18.00 to 20.00 we held the workshop with the local stakeholders.

After visiting several houses in Killeaney, we realized that most of them use coal/wood stoves and kerosene boilers, whose main emitters are aluminum radiators, except one of the houses that has no kerosene boiler and uses electric heaters. Most homes have electric showers and PVC windows that are not insulated, although some homeowners have insulated some walls of the houses. With regard to the isolation of the houses in general, we can say that it is insufficient.

Currently the inhabitants of these houses do not have a constant temperature throughout the house. Most of them keep the temperature in the living room, but not in the other rooms. As far as their needs are concerned, they currently require 6-7 months of heating for one year and, although they do not need refrigeration, they do need hot water. When asking about their desired thermal comfort, they told us that they would like to have an average temperature of between 20 and 21ºC.

After collecting and exposing all the information, some questions were raised:
Will the new system be efficient if just used during 6-7 months a year for heating?
Could we use the geothermal system for DHW as well?
And, is there any chance to install a heat pump with a water tank for DHW? Because in this way we could connect the heat pump to the water tank.

Some of the homeowners were also concerned about what they would have to pay for running the new system. However, rough estimates have already been made and, according to some data collected during the visits, the cost will remain practically the same.

Finally, it must be said that as the system of each house is different it is difficult to establish the baseline, since they work with different heating systems and it is not clear what the demand is. For the same reason, independent systems should be considered for each house.

Currently, a possible solution could be to install a GSHP for heating during the 6-7 cold months and then use it all year for DHW.

We will keep you informed about the progress of these pilot sites soon!