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					What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy is sustainable heat energy from deep within the earth.
The core temperature of the planet is more than 4000oC and heat is
continuously streaming towards the surface by conduction. Therefore, at any
location on the earth, the temperature of the rocks below the surface
increases with depth, on average at a rate of 2.5oC – 3.0oC per 100m.

At some locations very large quantities of heat are brought close to the
surface by the intrusion into the crust of molten magma originating from
great depth, and here the geothermal gradient is much higher, resulting in
high rock temperatures close to the surface.

Where these high temperatures exist, ground water is heated to form
hydrothermal resources – naturally occurring bodies of steam or hot water,
which can be exploited to generate electricity or for direct heating. In
general, high enthalpy resources (over 150oC) are used for electricity
generation, while lower enthalpy resources (less than 150oC) are used for
direct heating, or power generation using binary technology.

The use of these resources is economic today and geothermal has become an
important energy source with significant environmental and economic
advantages over fossil fuels.

Geothermal energy in Europe

Geothermal energy is    one of the indigenous and environmentally friendly
energy sources which    the European Union intends to expand in order to
reach its established   goals for renewable energy contribution to gross
energy consumption in   Europe, from the present 6% to 12% by the year

European countries generate more than 4000 GWh/year, predominantly in
Italy, Iceland, Turkey and Russia. Direct uses are much more widespread,
with most EU countries having some exploitation in the form of space
heating, agriculture, balneology or process heating. In total, more than
18,000 GWh/y are exploited.

High capacity factors, high availability and low emissions make geothermal
one of the best prospects for influencing the level of greenhouse gas
emissions over Europe.

A number of measures have been identified which can be used to expand the
exploitation of geothermal resources in the Member States. These have
been published under the title “Blue book on geothermal resources – a
strategic plan for the development of European geothermal sector”.

There is extensive potential in the market for direct uses of geothermal
energy among the European countries where large resources remain
unexploited and there is history of heat use. In particular, there are
opportunities to extend the usage in Eastern Europe and CIS countries.

Europe is also at the forefront of research into advanced geothermal
technology with the European Hot Dry Rock project at Soultz-sous-Forets in
France, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of exploiting deep hot
rocks that do not have in-situ fluid.

European geothermal affairs are the concern of both the International
Geothermal Association (European Branch) and the European Geothermal
Energy Council, as well the Commission itself.

International Geothermal Association
Geothermal education office  
European Geothermal Energy Council     contact
Hot Dry Rock                 
The THERMIE Programme

THERMIE is the demonstration component of the Research and Technology
Development non-nuclear Energy programme JOULE-THERMIE. It ran in two
phases; 1991 to 1994 and 1995 to 1998, and was managed by the
Directorate-General for Energy (DG XVII). THERMIE Type A actions were
demonstration actions designed to provide support for projects
implementing innovative energy technologies. Geothermal Energy was part of
the Renewable Energy Sector.

Summary information on EC geothermal projects

Between 1991 and 1994, under the European Community’s 3rd R.T.D.
Programme, THERMIE provided 7 million ECU of financial support to 17
geothermal projects in 10 Member States. In the next phase, from 1995 to
1998 it provided 17 million ECU to a further 27 projects.

                               T herm ie contracts in G eotherm al sector
                                          3rd and 4th RT D FP

       No of contracts

                              1991   1992   1994   1995    1996   1997      1998
The distribution of these contracts per Member State is shown in the next

                               Contracts per country

          AT   DE      ES      FR     GE     GR      IS      IT     PO      UK


Technology supported

Geothermal demonstration projects fall into one of six types: agriculture,
desalination, district heating, electricity production, reservoir engineering
issues and balneology.

In agricultural applications, low enthalpy fluids are typically pumped from a
borehole directly through greenhouses to raise the temperature and improve
growing conditions during the winter months.

Desalination units are driven by low to medium enthalpy geothermal energy
to produce water for domestic and irrigation uses in sites (e.g. islands) with
poor water reserves.

District heating is becoming more widespread in mainland Europe and is
already pervasive in Iceland. In these applications a central heat exchanger
transfers heat from the geothermal fluid to a network which supplies heat
to many individual buildings.
Projects involving electricity production involve either the application of
innovative technology to existing high enthalpy generation units or the
addition of binary power plants to low enthalpy systems as part of a multi-
use application.

Reservoir engineering projects are aimed at improving the efficiency of
energy recovery from existing systems. The heat energy stored in the rocks
is much greater than that stored in the water and proper management of
the production can greatly improve heat extraction.

Balneological projects (spas) are sometimes recreational facilities but often
the mineral and gas contents of the fluids are used for medical treatments
of respiratory and skin diseases. Some spas have been in operation for many
years but THERMIE funding has been used to upgrade facilities, secure the
future of the production or make better use of the energy.

In about one third of the projects, multiple or cascaded use is involved. In
these cases the geothermal fluid is utilised in two or more ways so that the
maximum amount of energy is extracted. A typical cascaded use example
would be electricity generation, followed by space heating.

The total of 44 projects is distributed in types of technology:
      Agriculture:               2
      Dessalination:             8
      District Heating:          19
      Electricity Production: 6
      Reservoir Engineering:     4
      Spas:                      5
The figures below show the distribution of projects per year and type of

                                 3rd & 4th RTD FP Geothermal THERMIE contracts
                                                per year and type

                    35                                                                                                     Agr
  No of contracts

                    30                                                                                                     Dessal.
                    25                                                                                                     El. Prod.
                    20                                                                                                     Res.Eng.
                    15                         13
                                                                                                                           Grand Total
                    10                     7                              7                 8                   8
                                                               6                                5       6           6 5
                                                                                  4                                  4
                     5   2   2     2   2 11 1 12                    3 2                                     2
                                                    1 1 1 12       1 1        1       2 1           1
                         1991     1992    1994      1995           1996       1997              1998        Grand
The 5th Framework and ENERGIE

In the 5th Framework, geothermal projects are included in the ENERGIE
programme under Key Action 5 “Cleaner Energy Systems, Including
Renewable Energies” and Key Action 6 “Economic and Efficient Energy for a
Competitive Europe”. Specifically, geothermal is included in actions 5.2.5 and

New projects are already receiving support under this programme.

The calls for proposals:

Contacting the Commission

Geothermal energy demonstration projects are the responsibility of the new
Directorate General, The Directorate General for Energy and Transport

Geothermal Energy lies within the New and Renewable Energy Sources area
of Directorate D – New Energies and Demand Management.

For further information about geothermal projects, the THERMIE or
ENERGIE programmes, please contact:

Head of Unit:       Mr. Enzo MILLICH
                    Tel: +322 29 53625,      Fax: 02 29 66261
Scientific Officer: Mr. Gunther ISRAEL
                    Tel: +322 29 96107       Fax: 02 29 66261

Address:           European Commission
                   DG TREN
                   200, Rue de la Loi
                   1000 Brussels

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