Danish parliament avoids political stance on geothermal heating

Danish parliament avoids political stance on geothermal heating Christiansborg, Copenhagen, Denmark (source: flickr/ Maria Eklind, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 12 Jun 2021

Expected negotiations for geothermal energy as part of the wider energy strategy of Denmark have been postponed again with increasing weariness of the sector given the uncertainties.

There have been great efforts made in bringing geothermal development to Denmark and there have been hopes that the sector could finally see a kick off to do its part in bringing climate friendly geothermal heating to the country. Now though it seems, that negotiations on geothermal as part of the new energy agreements have been postponed again, as reported by JV in Denmark.

In the current climate agreement of 22 June 2020, it was agreed that the parties behind the agreement should be convened for new negotiations in the second half of 2020.

“New future-proof economic regulation that takes into account Denmark’s new climate goals and ensures efficiency and future consumer-friendly prices. The framework for geothermal energy must also be considered, ” so discussed in the agreement text from last year.

The crux of the matter seems to be the regulation of the district heating sector, and the future economic framework conditions for geothermal heating.

The director of Sønderborg Varme has been waiting for a clarification since the autumn.  The company developed and operated a geothermal heating plant (Geotermi Spang) in partnership with Danish energy company DONG. Based on seismic surveys two wells were drilled in 2010. Later Sønderborg Varme too over as owner. With challenges to the injection well, the plant has not been producing heat since 2019. The wells were drilled to a depth of 1,200 meters, with a distance between both of 840 meters. The temperature derived from the production well were 48 degrees Celsius. The company believes to have found a solution to the reinjection well allowing it to restart the project, yet the economics are unclear under the current uncertainties on policy.

Sønderborg: Originally, it was planned that the Climate, Energy and Supply Committee in the Folketing (Danish parliament) would discuss a new energy agreement and thus also a framework for geothermal heat in the autumn of 2020. However, it was postponed to the second quarter of 2021. However, the members of the committee have still not a summons.

We would like the negotiations to start, also at a not too slow pace, it sounds diplomatic from Carsten Kissmeyer, one of the Liberal Party’s members of the committee.

However, he doubts that it will happen before the summer holidays, and when it does, geothermal energy will probably not rank high on the agenda.
We have to reach many other complicated issues, such as electrification plan and management of the district heating sector. And in general, we in the Liberal Party are not interested in giving too many subsidies. As far as we are concerned, geothermal energy only comes into play if it makes sense, he says.

Potential in the heat

The Unity List, on the other hand, would like to support geothermal plants: We have done this several times, and we would like to do it again. Because there is an enormous potential in geothermal energy, especially in Jutland and Copenhagen, emphasizes the party’s representative in the committee, Søren Egge Rasmussen.

He mentions that plans are being made in both Aarhus and Aalborg for the establishment of geothermal plants, which are also dependent on the forthcoming framework agreements. Therefore, the Unity List will fight for geothermal energy to be on the agenda: According to the agreement , we must look at the framework conditions for geothermal energy if the current ones are not good enough. So we will pursue that, he says.

Like repairing a car

But time passes, and it annoys the director of Sønderborg Varme, Erik Wolff: It has long been said that you would look at the area, but it does not happen. The area is not getting the attention it deserves, he believes.

So why not just invest in getting the plant in Spang up and running again, no matter what the politicians later end up agreeing on?

Because it’s consumer money. It can be compared to having a car that has broken down. It may well be that it can be repaired here and now for reasonable money. But if petrol prices rise to double in a little while, you have to consider whether the money is not better spent elsewhere, he answers.

Since 12 May, JydskeVestkysten has tried to get the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Supply to state when the ministry intends to convene negotiations on the framework agreement.

Despite several inquiries, both written and oral, we have not been able to get an answer, nor have we been able to find out whether geothermal energy will be part of the negotiations.