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Local heat alliance highlights great potential for geothermal in South Holland

View over the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands (source: flickr/ John Morgan, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 29 Apr 2019

About one-third of the heat demand for the region of South Holland could be covered by geothermal energy, as recently highlighted by the Geothermal Alliance, an alliance by local companies in the province of Zuid-Holland.

Geothermal energy can provide South Holland with a third of its heat demand. That is what the Geothermal Alliance says in a vision document, as reported by Installatie in the Netherlands earlier this month. Sufficient knowledge has been gained to scale up the technology. As a result, in addition to greenhouses, homes, offices and institutions will also benefit from geothermal energy.

The subsoil of Zuid-Holland is very suitable for using deep-lying aquifers for the extraction of geothermal heat, also known as “geothermal energy”. The principle is simple. One borehole ensures that hot water is pumped up, another borehole – located at some distance – returns the cooled water back, so that it can warm up again at a few kilometers depth.

Heat demand is falling

The Geothermal Alliance offered its vision during the Trias Westland congress in Naaldwijk to Meindert Smallenbroek, director of Heat & Underground at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. The Geothermal Vision shows that approximately 50 percent of the current geothermal heat in the Netherlands is extracted in South Holland. The current heat demand in this province is 115 petajoules and it is expected that this will decrease to 75 petajoules due to energy savings in 2050. The recoverable potential of geothermal heat is estimated at 25 to 40 petajoules. In 2040, the Heat Alliance wants to get one third of the heat demand of South Holland from geothermal energy.

Scale up and accelerate

The properties of the various soil layers (also referred to as “geological formations”) in the province, their potential and which techniques can best be applied have been largely surveyed. The Geothermal Alliance is now focusing on making optimum use of these formations throughout the province, instead of per project. This way, multiple projects can be realized at the same time, with which the use of geothermal energy is scaled up and accelerated. A lot of experience in applying geothermal energy has already been gained in Zuid-Holland, particularly in horticulture. The vision describes how geothermal energy can be applied on a larger scale for homes, offices and institutions. Partly through an innovation center in Rijswijk, which opened in 2018, the Geothermal Alliance wants to share and stimulate knowledge and innovations more intensively. The vision provides building blocks for the seven Regional Energy Strategies in South Holland, which are currently being worked on.

Deputy Han Weber: “South Holland has high expectations of geothermal energy. The Geothermal Alliance has brought us a lot of knowledge. This vision shows what is needed to apply geothermal heat safely and responsibly on a larger scale. Extracting geothermal heat means: treating the subsurface differently. The government also has a role to play here, because we are now facing the limitations of the Mining Act. In any case, it is positive that the government is now also allocating money to invest in new wells. ”

Geothermal Alliance

The Geothermal Alliance consists of branch organization DAGO, Energiebeheer Nederland (EBN), Eneco, municipality of Westland, sustainable energy and waste company HVC, geothermal operator Hydreco Geomec and the province of South Holland.

Source: Installatie