Geothermal development in Slovenia lagging behind potential

Geothermal development in Slovenia lagging behind potential Piran, Slovenia (source: flickr/ pedrosz, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 3 Jan 2020

With great geothermal potential, development has been lagging in Slovenia due to high license fees for exploration activities and onerous rules, so the industry.

In a country update for Slovenia published in conjunction with EGEC’s European Geothermal Congress 2019, the authors highlight the great potential for geothermal energy utilisation in the country, yet also the lack in development.

“In geothermal energy use in Slovenia in its northeastern part, belonging to the Pannonian Basin geothermal region, practically no progress was achieved in geothermal development during the last three years, since not a single new geothermal borehole was drilled there.

Two boreholes (for a doublet system) for the planned district heating of Murska Sobota town are still inactive since 2015. Most production wells there tap thermal water from the Miocene sand aquifers, that is from Mura Fm. with temperatures of 54 to 62 degrees Celsius and from Spilje Fm. with up to 76 degrees Celsius. The installed capacity and annual energy use of all 31 users in the country amounted to 62.43 MWt and 578.6 TJ.

More efficient use of thermal water is evident at some sites due to implementation of concession fees in 2015 for thermal water utilization, which led to lower annual energy use in 2018 compared to 2016-2017, owing to a bit lower pumped volumes and more correct data.”

With the introduction of license fees for geothermal exploration in 2016, the market essentially stopped. Beside the license fees, there are though issues with the onerous rules set up for geothermal exploration, as described in an article by Total Slovenia News before the year end.

“Several businesses in eastern Slovenia have urged the government to change the rules to designate geothermal energy a renewable resource, or to subsidise the construction of re-injection wells through which water is pumped back below ground after its heat energy has been harvested.”

The government has been addressing the comments, stating that geothermal utilisation will be further promoted in an upcoming National Energy and Climate Plan.

One will have if this will change anything for any potential geothermal development, so far the industry is not very hopeful.

Source: European Geothermal Congress 2019 (pdf), Total Slovenia News