The awards – which were presented at the GAI’s annual conference in Kilkenny recently – 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, with heating energy costs reducing to a third of that offered by other technologies.
“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. John also acknowleged the log-standing support for GAI of Frank Caul and John Byrne of Sirus.
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 heat pump that transfers thermal energy from a horizontal array of closed-loop pipes to an underfloor heating system.
An intelligent temperature control system using predictive selflearning algorithms maintains the rooms at the desired temperature, while prioritising the heat pump operation during times when off-peak electricity is available. This system is saving €12,000 and 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions 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 Daigon 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 914sq m extension to the Borris Lodge Nursing home is heated by two 37kW Oschner heat pumps that transfer 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 six years after installation.
Cliffs of Moher Visitors’ Centre (Co Clare) — The Cliffs of Moher Visitors’ centre is heated and cooled by a 160kW heat pump that transfers thermal energy from a horizontal array of closed-loop pipes buried one 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 €12,000 and 33 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year when compared to oil fired heating and air cooled chiller systems.
The Centre Manager, Greg Davidson, continues to improve the performance of the innovative heating and cooling system with lower energy use, as part of an environmental strategy befitting of the location, which also focuses on reducing water use and waste.
Vistakon (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 the 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 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 CO2 emissions every year.
The Facility Manager, Frank Curran, has commented on the major energy and water savings this installation has delivered while maintaining a high system reliability of operation.