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Great momentum for geothermal in Bavaria, Germany highlighted at recent event

Praxisforum Geothermie.Bayern 2016 in Munich/ Germany (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 11 Oct 2016

The recently held 4th Praxisforum Geothermie.Bayern has shown a great momentum for the geothermal sector in Germany with successful development and the recent sale of two operating plants to a local utility.

Having just got back from the 4th Praxisforum Geothermie.Bayern in Munich, Germany, I am still trying to process a lot of discussions I had on site.

The event brought together around 170 representatives from the industry, but also local municipalities, energy companies and public offices.

There clearly was a momentum to be felt. With the recent announcement of the local utility of the city of Munich buying two operating geothermal power plants and interesting sessions, it clearly was one of the most upbeat geothermal events in Germany in a long long time.

Organized by a good friend and colleague, the event clearly has established itself as a key event for the German geothermal sector. For the first time this year, the event also offered simultaneous translation to make it accessible for foreign representatives … who came and took advantage to learn more about a thriving market.

As part fo the key notes of the event, there were some really good presentations setting the tone for the day.

With a newly passed fracking legislation in Germany, the impacts for the geothermal sector were discussed in a presentation from the Ministry for Energy in Bavaria. There seem to be conflicting thoughts on the impact of this legislation for the geothermal sector, but in general the geothermal sector in Germany sees itself put into a difficult position.

Based on comments made as a follow up on this presentation, it seems like activities like building tunnels and more shallow drilling activities are less regulated, while at the same time more dangerous for groundwater used for human consumption.

In the second keynote, Benjamin Richter of Rödl & Partner gave a rather interesting presentation on the sale of geothermal projects, its chances and risks … a very interesting take particularly on the expectations of return of investments for different players and stages of entry.

The third keynote should be actually used as an excellent example of the view of a local municipality on the development of geothermal projects. The mayor of Puchheim, a city close to Munich, described how they have experienced efforts made on the development of a geothermal project, both from the developer side, but also from the various service firms interested in or working on the project, but also stakeholders and the general public. The message was clear, it is not only about stakeholders and public acceptance, it is also about the geothermal sector and its companies communicating in clear terms about the stages of development, risks etc and this in a language that is understood by all.

In separate Forums of the event, new development in geothermal power generation and the experience of geothermal heat was discussed. The ever important theme of pumps in the context of geothermal projects in Germany was also discussed and it seems like there are some positive developments made.

The event was closing with three separate sessions, one of which I was leading. It was an approach to establish a new roundtable and discussion round on issues related to investment and financing of geothermal projects.

The forum was well attended and had a good basis with a wide representation from the investment community. The panelists present were representing private equity (Allianz Global Investors, Zouk Capital, Provest KG), a utility (Enel Green Power), project finance (BayernLB), but also insurance (NW-Assekuranz).

As a new format event, it seemed to be well received both by the panelists and the audience. So I assume in one form or another this forum will continue, but more on this later.

Overall an excellent event and a good confirmation that things are looking more positive than ever for the geothermal sector in Germany.