Friday, April 27, 2012

Mission (im)possible: EGS as backup energy source for the other renewables?

Geothermal energy could become the solution for low-carbon future as well as for countries’ energy independence. Some two weeks ago, European Climate Foundation (ECF) published the analysis titled “Roadmap 2050”, which expressed quite positive attitude to geothermal energy.


Of course, the study conditions the further exploitation of geothermal energy by investing into research and development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems - EGS. It deals with four scenarios by 2050: the share of renewable energy sources (RES) 40, 60, 80 or even 100 % from overall energy mixture.

This is maybe the first expert study that tells us we could rely on geothermal energy, beside the solar one. Under theoretical scenario 100 % by 2050, EGS all over the Europe as well as solar energy coming from the North of Africa, would be able to cover up the power deflections of the unpredictable sources, especially wind parks.

A few days after the ECF’s study had been published, European Commission introduced its own analysis, which says the similar: The interesting market would be created with geothermal appliances. Altogether, geothermal solar as well as biomass could produce more than 45 % of total energy in the EU by 2050, but under the most sutaible conditions also 100 % from RES.

All-in-all, two studies unveiled recently are quite optimistic and we think they would turn into new opportunities for EGS development financing. We chose some parts from “Roadmap 2050”, so you would find the key findings under this blog post.
“The potential for conventional geothermal is assumed to be limited to about 2% of European power demand due to limited suitable and economic locations. Enhanced Geothermal, which involves injecting water deep into dry geothermal reservoirs to be flashed into steam and spin a turbine, is assumed to be a breakthrough technology, though it is promising enough that it has been deployed in the 100% RES pathway.“

“Costs for biomass and geothermal plants improve by 1% per year. [..] Fixed opex for geothermal plants is assumed to reduce from € 100 per kW to € 60 in 2050.“

“The 100% RES scenario was tested to be technically feasible and equally reliable. It leverages enhanced geothermal systems technology and imports of North African CSP (a commercial technology).“

“Enhanced geothermal is a large scale, nonintermittent renewable energy source that is currently in pilot testing phase. A 3 MW plant is commissioned in Landau, Germany, with several larger projects planned in Italy (over 300 MW). The current capital cost amounts to approximately € 5,000 per MW.“

“Key risks are related to hot well drilling (up to 10 km depth), earth movements that could fill the well, and (local) resource depletion that would require a new well to be drilled. Its energy source is truly renewable, as the earth contains large amounts of heat. Some technologies, however, consume water.“

“Enhanced geothermal technology can be applied anywhere in Europe, but is most cost effective where the heat is closer to the surface.“

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