Geothermal Electricity Workshop
Brussels, 29 April 2011
The resources of geothermal energy are in principle infinite. The key question is how to tap this potential with realistic technology under realistic economic conditions.
Today only a fraction of the total heat content of the Earth can be utilized. The technical potential concentrates on the underground heat resource up to 10 km depth. Installed geothermal electricity capacity today is around 1 GWe in the EU-27 (producing 0.2% of the total EU electricity production).
The workshop on geothermal electricity which took place in DG Energy on 29 April 2011 analysed the technical and economic case for geothermal electricity and discussed a possible vision for this technology up to 2050.
Geothermal resources could have the potential to supply at least 15% of Europe Global Electricity consumption in 2050. This is a major technological and economic challenge for the next 40 years.
The geothermal technology should be proven all over Europe in various geological conditions in the next decades and become competitive on economic basis with other sources if exploited around the "field of dwells" concept (By today, c.a. 20 EGS projects are in the pipeline with these objectives).
But, more research is needed on geothermal resource development in order to better understand this potential: development of assessment methods for geothermal systems and development of exploration methods for deep geothermal resources.
The European Commission supports currently this option specifically, through the acknowledgment of the SET Plan European Energy Research Alliance programme on geothermal energy. Consideration to the geothermal energy was given also through the Emission Trading Schemes New Entrance Reserve mechanism were projects for geothermal based electricity for capacities of 5 MWe were invited.