Home News Geothermal potential must be realized in the new European strategy.

Geothermal potential must be realized in the new European strategy.

by Linda Bertelsen
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Maria Dahl Hedegaard, senior consultant at the Danish District Heating Association, says that if the EU wants to promote geothermal energy as a green heat source, it must focus more on knowledge sharing, technological expertise, and mapping existing facilities.

On January 18, an almost unanimous parliament voted for the initiative report on geothermal energy, thereby sending it to the European Commission. The report calls for the development of a European strategy and legislation on geothermal energy.

And that call is not a moment too soon.

Considering that Europe is struggling to phase out Russian gas from industry, electricity, and heat supply, all green forces must be mobilized. While more than half of the final energy consumption for residential heating in Europe is still covered by fossil fuels, geothermal energy can significantly contribute to independence from natural gas, increase flexibility and efficiency, and serve as a local resource that no longer turns heating homes into a geopolitical issue.

Increase public awareness

However, this requires a cohesive strategy first and foremost. While wind and solar energy are already part of a European strategy for expanding renewable energy, geothermal energy lags behind in terms of technology awareness, recognition as renewable energy, and expansion.

A common strategy will contribute to increased public awareness of the technology, enable financial support, and ensure the supply chain and technology development through case studies and research.

Geothermal energy has the potential to meet 75 percent of Europe’s heating and cooling needs and 15 percent of its electricity demand by 2040.

In this way, geothermal energy contributes to the REPowerEU plan and the energy efficiency directive by providing fossil-free energy, increasing diversity in energy production, and being a green, renewable, and stable energy source.

Geothermal strategy is also a district heating strategy.

Once the infrastructure is in place, it becomes an easily accessible and local solution for a greener district heating system with limited land use, easily integrated into the landscape. This also means that geothermal energy is a crucial player in phasing out Russian gas in residential heating in major cities, where population density is high, and land expansion is limited.

With the expansion of geothermal energy, it is essential that the infrastructure is in place to realize its great potential. In other words, a strategy for geothermal expansion should also be a district heating strategy.

The two are intertwined if geothermal energy is to help transition European heat consumption from fossil to renewable energy.

Therefore, mapping existing district heating networks in member states and forward-looking heat planning with a focus on local heat sources as a heating form, as required by the energy efficiency directive, should be important parts of the strategy.

Underground mapping should also be conducted to find the most suitable locations for heat planning. This will highlight where the potential for geothermal energy lies in heating today and where the opportunities will be in the future.

Biggest Barrier The biggest obstacle to the spread of geothermal energy lies in ignorance about the technology and the lack of recognition of geothermal energy as a renewable energy source. Several European countries, such as France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, already use geothermal energy for heating, but without the sharing or mapping seen with wind and solar energy.

A greater focus on knowledge sharing, technological expertise, and mapping of existing facilities will give a boost to geothermal energy as a green heat source.

Article by Maria Dahl Hedegaard, Senior Consultant – Biomass Geothermal, at the Danish District Heating Association Email: mh@danskfjernvarme.dk
It was published in Danish on GridTech on March 8, 2024.

Curious to learn more?

Read about geothermal energy here
Read the article by Innargi “Bringing Geothermal Energy into District Heating