State of North Rhine-Westphalia looks at geothermal heating for a time post-coal

Mine tower, Bochum, Germany (source: flickr/ x1klima, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 10 Sep 2018

For a time beyond the current predominant use of coal for district heating, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is looking at geothermal energy as a potential large building block for a carbon-free district heating in the future.

At a recently held geothermal event in the city of Bochum in Germany, it was looked at how can heat supply and district heating supply in metropolitan areas be made climate-friendly or even climate-neutral in the post-coal era?

For a time beyond the current use of coal, geothermal energy was described as a building block to successfully shape the heat and energy transition in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).  This was the conclusion of the Geothermal Conference in the Geothermal Center Bochum, attended by about 150 experts on 6 September.

State Secretary Christoph Dammermann (FDP) in the Ministry of Economic Affairs: “Geothermal energy is an important component of future and responsible heat supply in North Rhine-Westphalia. The application numbers in the first half of the year also show that this trend continues unchanged. ”

In total, around 4,000 new geothermal heating systems (heat pumps) in 2017 were counted by the State Environment Agency. This is an increase of new installations by more than 15 percent compared to 2016. “These are very impressive numbers. Other federal states would be happy if they had this additional national capacity, “said Leonhard Thien, geothermal expert of the Energy Agency NRW.

Reiner Priggen, chairman of the State Association for renewable energy in NRW, would like to see the state government implement a deep geothermal project in NRW. “We do not have a reference system based on the Munich model in NRW.”

Rolf Bracke, head of the Geothermal Center Bochum, made it clear that there was a lack of large sources to feed district heating when coal will stopped to being used. However, NRW, like Munich, has high hydrogeothermal potential. In addition, mine water would be a potential seasonal reservoir for fossil and solar-generated waste heat in the Ruhr area. Thus, the natural heat supply exceeds the needs of district heating networks many times over. “The policy and the utilities should now react quickly, because a climate-friendly conversion of district heating systems on deep geothermal and mine water takes well over 20 years,” explained Bracke.

In the ranking of most geothermal projects, the district of Coesfeld and the municipality Wenke have distinguished themselves. The district of Coesfeld is ranked 1st in the category “counties” in NRW in 2017 with about 250 geothermal heatings installed in the category “municipalities”. In 2017, there were more than 130 new geothermal heating systems.

Source: ZfK