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European research project to respond to environmental concerns on geothermal development

Rancia 2 geothermal power plant, Tuscany/ Italy (source: Enel Green Power)
Alexander Richter 23 Nov 2018

Geoenvi, a European research project with 16 partners under the EU's Horizon 2020 program has been kicked off earlier this month. The project is to provide clarity on the environmental impacts of geothermal energy utilisation.

Geoenvi, a new European research project has been launched with funding of EUR2.5 million ($2.9 million) under the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union. The project plans to develop a coherent and detailed framework able to respond to environmental concerns related to use of geothermal energy as a source of renewable energy.

Officially started earlier this month, the Geoenvi project (Tackling the environmental concerns for deploying geothermal energy in Europe ) brings together 16 partners from six European countries – France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland and Turkey – who will work until 2021 with coordination of the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC). The role of our country is crucial: of the 16 partners 5 are Italian , ie the National Research Council (Cnr), the Consortium for the development of geothermal areas (CoSviG), Enel green power, Geothermal Network and the Inter-university Consortium for Development large interphase systems.

As explained by the Italian Geothermal Union (UGI), presided over by the first CNR researcher Adele Manzella who participates in the project, the Geoenvi project is called to describe “the environmental performance of current geothermal projects, and will produce an effective strategy to respond to environmental concerns. , by proposing recommendations for environmental legislation where it is incomplete, of an evaluation methodology that allows comparison with other energy sources, and an approach for transparent data sharing ».

This is an important evolution compared to the current context. Already today all the environmental data available on the use of geothermal energy in Italy, for example, clearly show that “Italian plants are equipped with already very effective abatement technologies”, and therefore that even today “there is nothing alarming . This does not mean – as Manzella explained on our pages – that there are no impacts, and technological improvements are certainly possible: the research is continuous on this aspect “, and Geoenvi fits fully into this path. “It aims to compare the environmental data of geothermal projects in several European countries and for different energy sources, to finally propose recommendations and guidelines: it will be a very interesting study”, says Manzella.

The analyzes will be conducted following an approach based on the analysis of the entire life cycle (LCA) of geothermal projects, so that they can be evaluated using a common and comprehensive method. “The risks and environmental impacts of geothermal projects must be reduced, while maximizing the benefits derived from the project for local communities”, they add from EGEC.

But while scientific research advances compact in Europe, starting from the assumption that geothermal is an important renewable resource to be sustainably cultivated, paradoxically the Italian Government – through the scheme of decree Fer 1, elaborated by the Ministry of Economic Development – is putting at risk the survival of the entire sector and of all the thousands of jobs related to it, canceling for the first time the incentives dedicated so far to the development of geothermal as that of other renewable sources. A double paradox, since – as already denounced by both Egec and the UGI – it is “a violent and unjustified attack against an industry born in Italy”.

Source: GreenReport, Unione Geotermica Italiana