25 Feb 2019, 13:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

German state NRW explores options to replace coal with geothermal energy for heating

Clean Energy Wire

An international research project aims to assess the potential of geothermal energy as a replacement for coal-powered heating in Germany’s western state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). “Roll-out of Deep Geothermal Energy in North-western Europe” is co-funded by the European Union and will look into the large-scale use of geothermal energy in four countries. “The Rhenish region (in NRW) should become a model for the switch to modern, innovative and climate-friendly industry,” NRW’s economy minister Andreas Pinkwart said in a press release from the Geothermal Research Centre Bochum. Working with industry partners including energy company RWE, researchers aim just how much geothermal energy would be available NRW -- thought to be more than anywhere else in Europe. A first deep-drilling trial will be carried out near the Weisweiler coal plant, which currently provides much of the energy used for heating in western NRW.

According to NRW’s geological service, about 53 percent of north-western Europe’s energy is used for heating, and only 2.5 percent of that comes from renewables. According to a 2018 study, geothermal energy could cover up to a sixth of German heating demand by 2050.

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