Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GEOELEC European Technology Platform starts

Geothermal energy is about to be more visible in circles of European Commission since now. On 2nd December 2009 the European Technology Platform „GEOELEC - Geothermal Electricity“ had been established. This step was made in Munich, beside the Geothermal Energy Conference „GeoPower Europe“, organized by EGEC (European Geothermal Council). We are proud to write that our Geothermal Anywhere company played an active role at the kick-off meeting as well.

European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are joint initiatives of the European Commission and the European industry representatives. ETPs are being set up with the aim to bring together companies, research institutions, financial world and the regulatory authorities on the European level, in order to define a common research agenda and strategy. The major outcome should become the cooperation of European and national stakeholders on the top level, as well as collecting private and public resources into common research and development activities. But keep on mind, please, that this is just the theory. The practice can differ from case to case.

To this time, the geothermal energy in Europe had not any common technology platform. This was so despite the fact it has a huge potential as clean source of energy. At the same time, geothermal energy is not so visible in circles of European Commission. In practice, this means the low level of European financial support. In contrast with the United States, where Obama's administration strongly supports the geothermal research and development, in Europe geothermal is some kind of „Cinderella“.

To this time, just one ETP was linked a little bit with geothermal. One body of ETP Renewable Heating and Cooling is the panel dealing also with geothermal heating and cooling systems. But in fact, GEOELEC is the first ever ETP truly focused on geothermal energy as a source of heat sufficient to produce electricity, not only just as a source of the residual heat for heating systems.

In our opinion, looking on geothermal without linking its potential  with the electricity generation, causes a kind of frustration. Dividing geothermal companies into two groups - those focused on heating and ones on electricity production - evidently weakens ourselves. European Commission looks at the energy in three categories: transport, heating and electricity. Such division in geothermal makes no sense for research, is artificial, in R&D creates lot of duplications. In addition, core of the geothermal R&D has almost nothing common with the wind or biomass technologies, which are jointly organized in the ETP Renewable Heating an Cooling.

All in all, we consider ETP GEOELEC as an opportunity to make geothermal energy visible on European level as an independent energy segment, with the huge potential waiting to be researched and exploited.

Finally, geothermal stakeholders‘ decision to fight for their own European Technology Platform is an encouraging sign. We hope it will help with optimizing geothermal R&D activities. Geothermal ETP also represents the key for European Commission‘s recognition of geothermal energy as a new, independent and complex part of its strategic visions for the EU. We hope geothermal would become sufficiently financed under FP7, comparably to support under U.S. Geothermal Program of Department of Energy.

We know that this is a long run, but when the EU does not want to be heavily dependent on import of energy, this is one of the necessary ways we must follow.

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