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Europe, the political crisis in the Ukraine and geothermal heating

Unterhaching Geothermal Heat & Power Plant, Germany (source: flickr/ sanfamedia.com, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 5 Mar 2014

With the political crisis in Ukraine and the Crimea, Europe will have to rethink its dependence on Russian gas and oil. With gas supply from Russia heating homes and business across Europe, geothermal energy could actually help replace large parts of that.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the autonomous region of Crimea keeps the main news on many news outlets around the world. Without commenting on the overall situation, the why, the history and so on, the implications on Europe’s energy market actually are rather interesting.

In the past we have talked about the dependence of Europe on Russian gas and oil, mostly for heating. Particularly Eastern European countries have discussed for years on how they can become more independent from Russian gas and oil.

But lets take Germany as an example, around 40% of all German gas supply comes from fields in Russia, of which more than half of it comes by pipelines passing through Ukraine. Russia is also Germany’s largest supplier of oil supplying around 35 percent of all oil imported to Germany.

Russian gas is heating homes across Europe and the political crisis in the Ukraine strengthens the notion to not only become independent from Russian gas supply, but also to use it as an opportunity moving to more sustainable solution.

Geothermal therefore could play an important part. Geothermal district heating is the main source of heating in Iceland, but also plays a role on the continent, e.g. in France, Hungary, Turkey and other countries. In Germany many geothermal plants are combined heat and power plants and have successfully replaced gas fueled district heating systems. The same could happen in Eastern Europe, e.g. Hungary but also many other countries in Europe.

The crisis – as terrible it is – might actually strengthen the notion of rethinking energy policy in Europe. With the right incentives, geothermal energy could provide necessary heat for district heating systems across Europe and thereby decrease the need for Russian gas, providing more independence and a generally better market position

Source: Der Spiegel, EGEC Geothermal Market Report 2013