Connect4geothermal event in Switzerland focuses on energy independence, decarbonization
On 28 and 29 September 2022, 268 people attended the geothermal forum connect4geothermal in Bern, Switzerland, of which 232 were on site and 54 were online. It was clearly expressed that geothermal energy can make an important contribution to the energy transition. Particularly for the heat transition, this local and CO2-neutral band energy offers alternatives to fossil fuels.
Renewable energy for heating
Over 50 per cent of Switzerland’s total energy consumption is used to provide heat and causes 60 per cent of CO2 emissions. This is because around 60 percent of space and process heat is still generated from fossil fuels, as Nicole Lupi from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) explained in her presentation. Climate-neutral solutions for heating energy are therefore central.
The difference between the supply and demand for sustainable energy in Switzerland is glaring and stronger measures are needed than those currently available, explained Marc Müller (Impact Living). Geothermal energy has many advantages, he added, as it is locally available and can be produced with little grey energy and few critical resources.
Alexander Richter (Innargi) showed that geothermal energy for direct heat consumption without heat pumps has had a growth rate of 425 % in the last 25 years. Using different examples in Denmark, he showed how this local energy is increasingly used in urban areas for heat supply in district heating networks.
Framework conditions and communication
In order to realise the potential of geothermal energy and to increasingly integrate this natural and local energy source into the energy mix, a risk guarantee related to the uncertainties of the subsurface is required. This is part of the framework to put geothermal energy on an equal footing with other sustainable energies. This was confirmed by representatives of energy distribution companies as well as investors during a panel discussion with representatives from politics, the energy industry and finance.
There also needs to be more communication about the possibilities of this energy. In neighbouring countries, numerous hydrothermal geothermal plants are already in use for heating via district heating networks. In Switzerland, geothermal energy has been supplying the district heating network in Riehen (BS) for 28 years, saving millions of litres of heating oil every year.
In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, several such systems are in the planning and implementation stages; in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, hardly any are yet in operation. The potential is particularly high in urban areas with a high heat density. In order to realise such projects, greater commitment to geothermal energy is necessary on the part of the authorities and politicians, argued representatives of public utilities and municipalities in another panel discussion.
Projects and exchange of experiences
In the parallel sessions on protecting and using the resources of the subsurface, strategies and procedures were explained on how the subsurface can be explored in order to use and protect its resources. Concrete projects were used to show how protection and use can complement each other and are not contradictory if planned appropriately.
In the sessions on the access to heat and distribution, projects and experiences were shared on which approaches can be used to distribute the heat gained in the depths of the underground in neighbourhoods and cities.
In the sessions on the production of electricity and storage of energy, potentials of geothermal for electricity and energy storage were explained and experiences from concrete projects were shared. Good practices for knowledge and technology transfer were developed in the three workshops on “Minimum data in exploration drilling”, “Exchange of experience between collaboration and competition” and “Need for education and training for geothermal energy”.
connect4geothermal was organized by Geothermie-Schweiz, the umbrella organization for the geothermal sector in Switzerland. Geothermie-Schweiz will also be organizing the 2025 European Geothermal Congress with the selection of Zurich, Switzerland as the next host city.
The presentation materials and videos from connect4geothermal are available for viewing in the official event website.