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Geothermal energy contributes to well-being of society, a point to be made

Rancia 2 geothermal power plant, Tuscany/ Italy (source: Enel Green Power)
Alexander Richter 22 Jan 2020

The Italian Geothermal Union (UGI) points to geothermal energy not being a commodity, a business, and not a nuisance but a resource that contributes to the well-being of society". To understand this, however, it is necessary to rebuild a climate of trust

An article in greenreport in Italy last week, reports the emphasize that the Italian Geothermal Union (UGI) makes in pushing for more dialogue and the need of the energy sector to involve society in energy choices.

How is it possible “to arrive at an early stage to make it clear to everyone that geothermal energy is not a commodity, it is not a business, it is not a disturbance but a resource that contributes to the well-being of society”? The Italian Geothermal Union (UGI), which addresses the issue in its latest newsletter, emphasizes the need to rebuild the trust needed to translate sustainable development ambitions into concrete actions in the area.

This is certainly not a problem that concerns only geothermal energy. Esther Duflo, Nobel laureate in economics in 2019, notes that “in such a difficult situation there is no confidence in what the elite proposes and says. The media, often accused of being part of the aristocracy of power, have a great responsibility to continue telling the truth. And economists (and technicians in general, ed. ) Must learn to use simple language, because it is because of their inability to communicate that people have lost faith in them. They have to dive into reality, analyze the details, solve concrete problems. And last but not least, politicians must be transparent and assume their own responsibilities.”

In this complex context “the rebuilding of trust – observes the president of the UGI, Adele Manzella – requires numerous and varied conditions. The dialogue, as already mentioned, is a piece of this complicated puzzle. The recognition of competence, experience and preparation is an important element “, to which must be added the need” to involve society in energy choices. And what better preparation than to deal with these matters directly? In this perspective, the idea of ??the Energy Communities becomes strategic. It is not easy to put it into the geothermal world but the first experiments begin, and it seems to me excellent news.”

What is it about? The Energy Communities are provided for in art. 22 of the European Directive 2018/2001, which is still waiting to be implemented in Italy. If to date the national legislation on self-consumption of energy provides that production and consumption must be on the same site and that in a self-consumption system there can be no more than one consumer and one producer, the Energy Communities greatly expand the range of action: as explained by the UGI, they are “citizens, companies or public bodies that voluntarily and freely associate, produce and exchange energy, participating in the management of production plants, storage systems, distribution networks in autonomous way.”

If the energy communities in Europe have been a consolidated reality in Switzerland for at least 15 years, the Italian context is still in an embryonic stage to date. “Only two regions, Puglia and Piedmont, have established energy communities on the basis of the European Community directive 2018/2001, for the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. The Piedmont Region has issued the law n.12 / 2018 “Promotion of the institution of energy communities”; the Puglia Region has issued laws no. 42/2019 “Establishment of regional energy income” and n. 45/2019 “Promotion of the institution of energy communities”.

As with regards to geothermal energy, however, something has already started to move in other European countries: “A geothermal energy community has recently been established in the Netherlands, the network is called Trias Westland and belongs to Anexo. It is managed with E-Web Geo, a very advanced software that is able to distribute heat exchanges between participating customers, measuring and controlling the district heating network in real time, aligning supply and demand, preventing heat loss. At European level, projects such as Crowdthermal, announced a few months ago and whose purpose is the evaluation of development schemes based on energy communities for geothermal energy ” are promoted “.

More specifically, Crowdthermal is a EUR 2.3 million Horizon 2020 project, whose purpose is to allow the European public to participate directly in the development of geothermal projects with the help of alternative funding schemes (crowdfunding) and commitment tools Social: “Based on three case studies (Iceland, Hungary and Spain) and a trans-European survey conducted by third parties, models will be developed and tested whose feedback will help create a toolbox intended for developers to promote new geothermal projects in Europe, find new forms of financing and investment risk mitigation schemes accompanied by best engineering, microeconomic practices and conventional financial instruments ».

The project started a few months ago, and will end on August 31, 2022: it will be interesting to follow its developments.

Source: GreenReport