25 Aug 2023, 13:34
Carolina Kyllmann

Chancellor Scholz pledges tenfold increase of geothermal energy in heating networks

Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged to greatly expand the use of geothermal energy in Germany. The Social Democrat (SPD) said his goal was to tap into the renewable energy’s potential as much as possible and, by 2030, feed ten times as much geothermal energy into the heating network as today. “Geothermal energy can drive the entire energy transition forward,” Scholz said during a visit to a geothermal project in the state of Bavaria alongside politicians including state premier Markus Söder (CSU) and research minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP). “It should play a much more significant role than before.”

The geothermal project visited by Scholz uses so-called petrothermal energy from hot dry rocks with a system that does not require the presence of deep water. If successful, it is set to “revolutionise geothermal energy”, Bavaria’s economy minister Hubert Aiwanger said. “New projects like this one will find an ideal innovation landscape [in Bavaria]. If the technology succeeds, we will further expand our leading position,” he said. However, experts – including chairmen of geothermal associations – remain cautious and warn against exaggerated hopes, saying the expensive project could be extremely inefficient, according to Handelsblatt.

Geothermal energy could cover around a quarter of Germany’s heating demand and play an important role in the decarbonisation of the country’s heating grids, according to researchers. Earlier this year, a draft law stipulating a de-facto ban on the installation of new fossil fuel boilers in a bid to reduce emissions from the heating sector triggered a fierce debate about costs and technologies. After much public backlash, the government has effectively watered down the law, which still needs to pass parliament.

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