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Assessing the geothermal combined heat and power potential in Germany

Holzkirchen geothermal power plant, Germany (source: Turboden)
Alexander Richter 19 Dec 2019

A new study released provides an estimate on the technical and economically feasible geothermal potential for both power and heat generation.

A study recently released in Germany, investigates the potential of hydrothermal geothermal energy for combined heat and power (CHP) generation in Germany. “Based on the theoretical potential of hydrothermal heat in place, the technical and economic potential is determined with a review and an analysis of existing geothermal plants. To this end, the thermodynamic and economic performance of operating power plants is analyzed and models for the efficiency and the production costs are developed. Based on this analysis, a technical potential of 12.2 PWh el and 16.7 PWh th as well as an economic potential of 9.1 PWhel and 12.5 PWhth is determined.”

The economic potential of 9.1 TWhel translates to 9,100 GWhel, while the heat potential of 12.5 TWhth translates to 12,500 GWhth.

If one were to attempt translating this into a potential power generation capacity number, one would – very conservatively calculated – come to a number of 1,300 MW of installed geothermal power generation capacity, or around 1,700 MWthermal.

The authors point though that, “it should be considered that the presented sustainable and economic potential with a 1.5% share of the gross electricity demand in Germany is only derived for the hydrothermal resources.Since these resources correspond only to 5% of the overall geothermal resources in Germany, increased research and financial incentives for supporting the utilization of petro-thermal resources by EnhancedGeothermal Systems (EGS), might lead to a significant increase of the potential role of geothermal energy within the ongoing energy transition.”

Source: Science Direct