02 Feb 2022, 13:42
Kerstine Appunn

Geothermal energy could cover a quarter of Germany’s heating needs – researchers

Clean Energy Wire

Deep geothermal energy can make a major contribution to the decarbonisation of Germany’s heating sector, a paper published by researchers from the Fraunhofer and Helmholtz associations shows. Deep geothermal energy can be sourced locally, independent of weather conditions, and the process requires little space in settlements, the authors say. It could cover more than a quarter of Germany's annual heat demand (over 300 TWh) and generate additional revenue and jobs. To achieve this, the authors make recommendations on how to develop geothermal energy, e.g. by parliaments deciding clear expansion targets and creating insurance and funds for companies that start explorations. “The few dozen deep geothermal plants in Germany must now become thousands. This requires investment by industry in the key technologies to achieve large industrial scale,” the press release says.

The paper focuses on hydrothermal reservoirs, i.e. thermal water-bearing rocks at depths between 400 and 5,000 metres. Geothermal waters can be extracted from deep wells at temperatures between 15 and 180 degrees Celsius. The technology has been used for decades in many European cities, such as Paris and Munich, but has not yet received much attention in the German heating sector transition, where oil and gas still dominate and cause high CO2 emissions. The government aims to provide half of municipal heating from climate-neutral sources by 2030.

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