GeoPower Europe in Munich sees strong attendance

Alexander Richter 4 Dec 2009

Geothermal Energy Conference GeoPower Europe in Munich, Germany, co-organized by the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) sees attendance of key players of the European geothermal scene and interested companies.

Geothermal Energy Conference GeoPower Europe, co-organized by the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) is currently taking place in Munich, Germany.

There are about 120 representatives from around 20 countries at the conference and present an interesting cut between industry representatives on the development and service side, but also insurance companies and financial players.

The first day saw presentations by a number of companies highlighting issues of research and development needs, financing for geothermal projects, case studies from Turkey and Hungary, as well as the role of utilities in geothermal development.

The first presentations were given by Thor Gíslason, the CTO of Icelandic Geysir Green Energy, who talked about his company and the companies evaluation of geothermal markets and their view on the European geothermal market. Christian Boissay of G2H in France and treasurer of EGEC provided an overview of development in Europe from a technology perspective, touching upon heating and electricity generation before going into detail about the EGEC visions and estimates. He also talked about the need for a more cross-European effort on insurance and Research and Development funding.

In the second round Wiliam Gillett of the European Commission and Horst Kreuter from GeoThermal Engineering gave their view on regulation and incentive regimes and how they can help geothermal development. Mr. Gillett talked about the role of the EU administration in helping renewable energy development and particularly the role of geothermal, warning also of the fine balance with regards to feed-tariff pricing warning that too high prices and non-deliverance of those technologies might be a trust issue for politicians. Mr. Kreuter talked then in detail on the incentive system in Germany, touching upon the feed-in-tariff system of Germany, the Market Stimulation Program and the availability of drilling insurance in Germany. He mentioned MunichRe, SwissRe, Axa and Gothaer Insurance as samples for insurance companies providing exploration insurances to developers in Germany and also mentioned brokers, such as Marsh and Willis and the governmental insurance scheme available in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

In the financing session, which was split in two it was looked at on how to raise financing for geothermal development in Europe. Charles Baron of touched upon his companies experience on investments in EGS and the role his company sees for geothermal energy from a primarily venture capital based perspective. Alexander Richter of Islandsbanki talked about from a bank and debt financing perspective highlighting some of the challenges for debt financing geothermal projects.

Roland Schulze of the European Investment Bank talked about his institutions and touched upon his bank’s experience in financing geothermal projects, among them the recent financing of EUR 170 million for the 2×90 MW extension of Iceland’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. Kristjan Olafsson of Reykjavik Energy Invest, the investment arm of the utility running Hellisheidi talked about his companies project in Djibouti and his view on raising capital for geothermal development. Sasha Jacob, of Jacob Securities in Canada talked about the role of his company in the earlier stage financing and the role the Toronto Stock Exchange has played for North American geothermal development companies and the recent high-profile IPOs and listings on the TSX.

In a very interesting presentation co-presented by the development company Gurmat Elektrik and WestLB, the bank providing the project financing for the 47.4 MW geothermal power plant Aydin-Germencik in Turkey. The project was explained in detail showing all the different elements and partners to the project and the debt financing package provided by WestLB.

Stephan Jacob of MunichRE provided then an overview on his company’s offering of an exploration risk insurance and how is firm is evaluating projects in-house.

In presentations by RWE Innogy and EnBW, two German utilities, as well as Enel Green Power, the green power arm of Italian utility Enel, provided their view on the role of utilities in geothermal development. Interesting was EnBWs clear focus on EGS and co-production of heat and power. All of them talked about how feed-in-tariffs, while opposed in the past, are seen as positive today and how important it is to have security about the length of this scheme.

In the Hungarian case study, PannErgy provided their view on the importance of independence of Russian Gas in the Eastern European countries in the Carpathian Basin and how his company is working on providing geothermal heating solutions to the region.

In the last session of the day players from Turkey, Greece, Hungary and France provided their views on Europe’s emerging geothermal markets. They looked at the great opportunities and which markets will take off and some of the opportunities for investment.