New EUR 30 million EU research project to push geothermal in Europe

Hot creek near Reykholt, Iceland (source: flickr/ bekassine..., creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 29 Mar 2017

Led by Iceland's National Energy Authority, Geothermica - a new EUR 30 million - geothermal research project is to support and accelerate development of geothermal utilization within the participating European countries.

At a meeting earlier this month, the National Energy Authority of Iceland (NEA) introduced a new geothermal research project, as reported by a local news outlet in Iceland. NEA has been assigned a leading role in a big cooperative geothermal research project with sixteen administrative and research centers in thirteen European countries. The aim of the project – called Geothermica – is to support and accelerate development of geothermal utilization within the participating countries. To achieve the objectives of the participants have contributed over EUR 30 million ($33 million) into a fund that will be used to support the innovation and development of geothermal energy.

A total of 10 EU countries participating in the partnership; Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Romania and Slovenia, as well as Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey related to the project through an agreement with the EU, including the EEA Agreement. The goal of the partnership is to share research funds from the participating countries on the one hand and the EU on the other hand, research and innovation in the field of geothermal energy, and to promote business networks and the geothermal sector in Europe. Then the plan is to establish strategic alliances among those who provide funding for geothermal research and innovation.

Hjalti Páll Ingólfsson, Manager of the GEORG research cluster in Iceland and Program manager for Geothermic, considers this project to be also useful in the Icelandic context. It provides opportunities for projects in new locations, beyond where Icelandic companies and individuals have worked in recent years.

“This also opens the opportunity to utilize our knowledge of district heating and the possibility of using geothermal energy as a source of heat, not only for power generation. This is becoming a major revival in Europe of the use of renewable energy, which has not been so far despite intense moment, “he says.

When asked who could take advantage of this fund, he says it may be experts in energy that might be on various projects, regardless of what they are denominated. “Those who can definitely come in here are independent experts and consultants, engineering firms, energy companies and this can certainly be an opportunity for the row of projects,” he says.

Behind projects like this lies the policy of European countries to substantially increase the share of renewable energy both for the public and for use in industry. Today, geothermal energy is used as an energy source only in a few industries and a few designated areas. At the same time it is estimated that about a quarter of European countries can take advantage of geothermal energy. The European Union wants to fuel 80% of all heating from renewable energy by 2050, including from geothermal energy which is still much undeveloped in most parts of the world. The participants in the research project therefore believe that the opportunities of further utilisation of geothermal energy is essentially limitless.

Asked if this project connects to the ongoing debate on climate change, he says that the project confirms the EU’s interest in geothermal energy is directly and indirectly connected to the debate. The interest in renewable energy is therefore incredibly important.