Geothermal energy is only used in a few market sectors and regions, despite the fact that it is a widely distributed, clean and continuously available energy resource. These benefits make it uniquely positioned to contribute towards Europe’s transition to secure, clean and efficient energy. The EU-funded GEOTHERMICA project is accelerating geothermal energy deployment by promoting research projects, innovation and collaboration. It exchanges information, knowledge and good practices related to geothermal energy research and innovation (R&I) policies between national and regional funding bodies. “In doing so, geothermal energy will be able to fulfil its true potential for a climate-neutral Europe,” comments Alicja Wiktoria Stokłosa, a geothermal energy expert who works as an office manager for GEOTHERMICA.
Joining forces to finance innovation in geothermal energy
The project began by identifying national and regional barriers to and opportunities for developing geothermal energy, as well as national and regional R&D needs. This has resulted in clusters, or common areas of interest, and cooperation partnerships. Countries can quickly find others with similar needs, or countries that have already reached the next level in developing geothermal energy and are attractive partners to learn from. The results fed into strategic recommendations on short- and medium-term priorities in R&I.
Mobilising knowledge networks on geothermal energy
The consortium is pooling the resources and know-how of 20 geothermal energy R&I programme owners and managers from 18 EU Member States and Associated Countries. Acting as a collaboration platform for R&I funding organisations, the network makes funds available for R&I actions related to geothermal energy. “The support has provided countries with less developed geothermal sectors invaluable access to the skills and experience of peers and colleagues,” adds Stokłosa. This extensive network has made much progress in key areas of policy, regulations and decision-making. Through joint calls, it has developed and implemented a strategy to build a durable and long-lasting European R&I cooperative to expand geothermal energy use.
Financial resources to commercialise cutting-edge geothermal energy solutions
EUR 90 million has been made available for three calls for innovative projects. The network funds about half of this amount. Each call involves between 12 and 18 geothermal energy R&I programme owners and managers. All the calls emphasise the need for research projects that significantly contribute to making the climate transition a reality. Two of the three joint calls have been completed with strong participation from industry. As of June 2022, 15 high-quality, transnational projects have demonstrated and validated novel concepts for geothermal energy use within the energy system and identified commercial opportunities. They covered all stages in the development cycle of secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable geothermal installations. The third joint call was launched in 2021 to accelerate the heating and cooling transition. It will bring together national programmes to integrate the energy system and programmes to advance the various heating and/or cooling technologies, with a strong focus on geothermal energy. The funded projects will start in September 2022 and end within 3 years. “Outcomes are leading to cost reductions, improved safety and better possibilities to carry out geothermal energy projects,” concludes Stokłosa. “End users will benefit from more secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy.”
GEOTHERMICA, energy, geothermal, geothermal energy, R&I