Reawakened interest in geothermal energy and power generation in Greece

Reawakened interest in geothermal energy and power generation in Greece Akropolis in Athens, Greece (source: flickr/ Falco Ermert, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 25 Jan 2021

There is an increased interest in geothermal energy utilisation in Greece beyond direct use applications for heat and greenhouse operations with a reawakened interest also in power generation.

In recent years, the interest for geothermal energy in Greece has been revived, with this specific energy source already being used in several greenhouse installations in Northern Greece, while greater interest is expected for the part of electricity generation.

Earlier this month, researcher Elgo Dimitra Paschalis Dalampakis spoke to Greek publication about the latest developments in geothermal energy in Greece.

The project of geothermal energy is an old story in our country, as it begins in the mid-1980s when the research of IGME in Milos and Northern Greece began, while it has the privilege to belong among the three European countries that have reservoirs with very high temperatures (over 300 degrees Celsius). It has high enthalpy fields which are in the islands of the Aegean volcanic arc, mainly in Milos and Nisyros and of course the extensive geothermal fields mainly in northern Greece and specifically in Central and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, but also in the islands of the Eastern Aegean and specifically in Chios and Lesvos with reservoirs that have temperatures up to 90 degrees Celsius.

One of the most important bets in the 1980s was the exploitation of the geothermal field on Milos, as the EEC then provided large amounts of funding and geothermal energy then seemed like a reliable energy solution for the islands. The geothermal data were impressive, production tests had been carried out, the then estimates for the geothermal power generation capacity were close to 120 MW and in general there was the climate and the anticipation that RES would start to be included in the country’s energy mix.

When the first 2 MW pilot unit was implemented by PPC, things showed that the project would continue, but on the one hand the technical shortcomings and on the other hand the significant failures in the choice of management of the emitted gases, mainly hydrogen sulfide, created serious environmental problems, which brought about the then justified reaction of the local population. Since then, of course, much has changed in terms of available technologies for the management of geothermal by-products, while very soon our country completes the regulatory framework for geothermal with clear and very strict environmental forecasts.

“Geothermal energy continues to be a local energy resource that, in the context of the obligations undertaken by our country, does not exceed and if we continue to ignore it, it will never enter the country’s energy mix in terms of electricity generation.” said ELGO researcher DIMITRA Paschalis Dalampakis. According to the researcher, there are three problems observed in our country that hinder the development of geothermal energy: the lack of know-how and culture of greenhouse crops in general in the areas of large geothermal fields of Northern Greece, lack of available areas for rent and lack of essential concerning the final productive actions.

Nevertheless, in recent years, positive initiatives have been recorded in relation to the use of low temperature geothermal energy for the operation of greenhouse installations. In particular, Mr. Dalambakis emphasizes that in our country “a major problem over time has to do with the final applications, as well as the unavailability of land, as all fields are along the coastal zone from Evros to Strymon and incidentally some of “These fields are in areas of high productivity, so the unavailability of land acts as a strong disincentive”, especially for large business initiatives.

According to Mr. Dalampakis, Greece is also privileged in the field of shallow geothermal energy, as you can use it at shallow depths, resulting in serious domestic know-how and a plethora of private companies undertaking both the investigation and the installation of heating infrastructure. and cooling using heat pumps in homes, buildings and sports facilities as well as small greenhouses.

In total there are about 300-350 acres of geothermal greenhouses, where 95% are located in Northern Greece. The main volume of the above projects was implemented only in the last seven years, such as the greenhouse units of the group “Plastics of Thrace” for the production of tomato-cucumber and “Selecta”. From there, small greenhouse units and a series of short-range innovative actions such as drying of agricultural products, heating of asparagus plantations and the cultivation of spirulina are recorded.

Mr. Dalampakis, of course, notes that there is no aggressive policy of incentives regarding greenhouse crops, estimating that the regions should take the initiative. Today, three of the most important geothermal fields in Northern Greece are leased by municipal authorities and specifically: in Akropotamos of the municipality of Paggaio, the geothermal field of Eratinos in Chrysoupoli and of Aristinos in the Municipality of Alexandroupolis.

He emphasizes that the municipalities came forward trying to integrate the local population that could not take the risk of an investment in the initiatives for the utilization of geothermal energy. In this sense, there are thoughts from the Municipality of Nestos for the creation of small demonstration and experimental greenhouses and the integration in a dynamic system of annual training of young farmers to acquire the new know-how.

Mr. Dalampakis concludes that there is interest in leasing areas and exploring deep geothermal systems with intermediate temperatures of 120-150 degrees C and creation of power plants from geothermal, estimating that this will manifest itself even more in the next period with the completion of the regulatory framework.

Source: Dimitris Avarlis, via Thessalia economy