26 Mar 2020, 13:57
Benjamin Wehrmann

German state plans to unlock Rhine Rift Valley's vast geothermal energy potential

Clean Energy Wire / Badische Neueste Nachrichten

The south-western German state of Baden-Wurttemberg plans to ramp up its deep geothermal energy capacity to better use the renewable energy source's potential for heating and electricity generation. The economic powerhouse state's environment minister Franz Untersteller said that despite the region's promising geothermal potential, the concept of using ground heat from depths of 400 to 5,000 metres is not being adequately exploited there, according to the Badische Neueste Nachrichten. The state government has therefore commissioned researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to further explore the technology's prospects locally and called on businesses, engineering companies and municipalities to work on a joint geothermal energy roadmap. According to local renewable energy platform PEE BW, the regions of Upper Rhine Rift Valley and Upper Swabia in particular offer ample deep geothermal energy potential that could help accelerate the transition away from fossil energy sources. Up to ten percent of Germany's total energy demand could theoretically be supplied by geothermal sources, the platform said. Leader Franz Pöter added that the local potential would be enough to deliver district heating for several major cities including Heidelberg, Mannheim and Karlsruhe, which is currently often provided by excess heat from coal plants.

Energy industry associations last year called for developing a coherent geothermal energy strategy for all of Germany, arguing that the national potential of 100 terawatt hours of heat per year by 2050 could supply 17 percent of the country's expected demand for heating at the time. In 2018, deep geothermal energy accounted for 0.7 percent of Germany's heat consumption supplied by renewables, or 0.1 percent of the country's total heat consumption.

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