LPRC at #vEGU21 – overview

La Palma Research Centre took part at this year’s EGU General Assembly, an online event, where it presented six projects where it is involved in.

For this year, EGU2021 worked differently: presenters had the chance to briefly present their research/project in 2 minutes. After this, presenters were divided between breakout rooms where discussion with the session’s participants could take place. Find our views and more information on each of our presentation below:

ENGIE (Session EOS5.1 – Promoting and supporting equality, diversity and inclusion in the geosciences)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 70
  • Impressions: The sessions was held via zoom, but no break out rooms were possible. Nevertheless links were established with a few similar initiatives (such as E.D.I.G).

CROWDTHERMAL (Session ERE2.5 – Exploration, utilization and monitoring of conventional and unconventional geothermal resources)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 70
  • Impressions: 1 person came to the breakout session and asked a few questions & comments: good to focus on the concerns of the public vis-a-vis geothernmal and looking forward to see the results of citizen participation in geothermal via financing.

PRO-ACT (Session PS6.4 – Analogue research and data analysis supporting and preparing lunar and planetary space missions)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 50
  • Impressions: 5 people joined the breakout room discussion to enquire about the technical aspects of the PRO-ACT project. Some links were made with the attendees for a future follow-up of the activities.

UNEXUP (Session ERE5.4 – Mineral exploration for the XXI Century)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 45
  • Impressions: Held a short discussion on the UX-1 robots development.

ROBOMINERS (Session ERE5.4 – Mineral exploration for the XXI Century)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 45
  • Impressions: Short discussions on the current stage of development of the robot-miner (design, test sites) and next steps.

AGEO (Session NH9.11 – Risk and Resilience at the Science-Policy-Practice Interface)

  • Abstract & Information
  • Number of attendes: 77
  • Impressions: 5 people came to the breakout room to discuss the project ideas.

Until the end of May, you will still be able to have a look at the uploaded project material – just click on the project links above! #sharing #knowledge

LPRC projects at EGU 2021

This year, following the company’s tradition to present its projects at the EGU General Assembly – 2017, 2019 and 2020 -, LPRC will present and discuss five projects on this year’s edition. Due to the travel and health restrictions in place the event will be held online.

The EGU 2021 event (#vEGU21) will host presentations in a unique style: each abstract will be given a 2-minute timeslot  to make a quick presentation based on a 1-slide presentation. After that, participants can enter chat rooms to discuss the abstract and the presentations with the authors.

Below you can find the projects and materials that LPRC will present during the EGU 2021 online event:

Feel free to have a look at the projects and materials provided and join the discussion at the given times – science is for everyone!

Environmental evaluation of a Geothermal Power Plant in the Southern German Molasse Basin by a Life Cycle Analysis

On the 26th March 2021, ENERCHANGE and ThinkGeoEnergy hosted a new episode of their recurring Focus on Geothermal – Energy for the Weekend event this time focused on Life Cycle Assessment of Geothermal Energy to raise public acceptance based on a German Case Study.

Geothermal Energy and social acceptance

The webinar highlighted the competitive disadvantage of geothermal energy compared to other energy sources due to public opinion. Despite of its green potential and output advantages (baseload capacity, long lifetime of operation and wide accessibility), geothermal is often perceived a harmful energy source by general public.

According to the present case study and similar past conclusion of experts, the roots of poor social acceptance performances of geothermal energy lie in poor communication of geothermal green capacities compared to other energy sources both fossil and green. The German team hosting the event suggested that a clear demonstration of the green output of geothermal energy could outweigh negative initial views on the technology. In addition, the team believes that a strict environmental monitoring of geothermal power plants is necessary to showcase transparency, accountability and good faith of geothermal developers. To that end, the team proposed that geothermal projects shall establish a thorough Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of their operations from exploration to decommission to monitor CO2 emissions and take measures if levels are abnormally high.

Life Cycle Assessment for geothermal projects

A Life cycle assessment is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life, spanning from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, and use.

Possible considerations of a Life Cycle Assessment for Geothermal plants.

Based on this new operational framework for a Life Cycle Assessment in geothermal, 3 steps have to be taken into account when assessing geothermal power plants:

  • Drilling geothermal wells require energy (often electricity) whose origin (fossil v. renewable) has to be taken into account. Furthermore, building a plant requires, raw materials, transport and auxiliary energy. All of which have a carbon footprint. The total energy demand for input will be accounted for in the calculation of the environmental impact of a project.
  • The same principle applies for the output of a station. Whilst the electricity produced by a geothermal power plant might be 100% clean, it bears the limitations of transport of raw materials for construction and the building of the plant itself.
  • Finally, it is necessary to ensure that refrigerant used in geothermal turbines shall not leak which would have a detrimental impact on the environment. One way to ensure transparency and maintenance of high safety standards throughout the lifetime of a geothermal plant is to enforce environmental monitoring. Said monitoring shall be available to the public to showcase the good performance of geothermal energy which would then improve social acceptance of the technology once the public sees for itself that geothermal has great versatility coupled with high environmental standards.

LPRC at “How the European Arctic secures the European Green Deal” webinar

On Wednesday – 17 March 2021 – LPRC was present at the webinar “How the European Arctic secures the European Green Deal”, which was an online event organized by Svemin (the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers), Finnmin, North Sweden European Office, and region västerbotten.

The webinar was divided in three main sessions: Mineral extraction, battery production and recycling. These are relevant topics to emphasize the importance of minerals and metals to support the technology involved in the production of windmills, electrification of transport, solar PV systems and others, which are among the solutions towards a low-carbon future.

The program counted with several speakers, panel discussions, as well as a live chat that allowed participants to learn more and discuss about the leading role of the European Arctic in sustainable mining in the world. More specifically, how the Nordic Countries are the front-runners in reducing the carbon footprint per unit of extracted raw materials, and, therefore, contributing to the successful realization of the Green Deal goals in Europe.

The CEOs and other representatives of relevant companies of the sector, such as Boliden, LKAB, Finnish Minerals Group and Talga Group Ltd were invited to give their opinion on the topic and present their initiatives towards a sustainable European raw materials supply. In addition, Policy Analysts, MEPs, MPs and other decision makers provided their overview and commented on the existing and future initiatives in the sector, as well as the importance of generating demand for sustainable raw materials for further investments. The closing remarks were given by Mikael Janson, Director North Sweden European Office.

The webinar consisted of fruitful discussions and a lot of lessons learned for other regions in the EU and worldwide to join forces towards a low-carbon future in the mining sector. The event was 3 hours long, and the whole recording can be watched on the Svemin channel on YouTube – HERE.

LPRC participates at the GEOENVI-CROWDTHERMAL joint webinar – part 2

The recommendations coming from GEOENVI (see part 1) directly echoe the CROWDTHERMAL project’s vision for social acceptance on geothermal projects. CROWDTHERMAL identified 4 factors of public acceptance:

  1. Self-efficacy: Energy transition means the change of infrastructures and daily life environments. It is important to experience one’s own impact and influence within this transformation process.
  2. Identity: The more people can identify emotionnally with a measure, the greater their willingness to accept it. This means that infrastructure measures must also be recognised emotionally as elements of one’s own living environment. This is more likely to happen with more local stakeholders involed (regulators, SME and local communities).
  3. Orientation and insight: If people understand the necessity of a political decision and support the goals and means envisaged by this decision, they are more likely to accept it. Therefore, transparent information is needed about what they will face. Crucial elements are transparency about pros and cons and potential alternatives.
  4. Positive risk-benefit balance: Acceptance is more likely the more the planned consequences of a decision benefits oneself or related groups. This includes the perception of low or at least acceptables risks. In this context, the risk assessments of experts and those of laypersons are often not congruents.

Finally, with regard to financing of geothermal projects, CROWDTHERMAL confirmed that community funding can play an important role to initiate and support geothermal projects by raising additional funds. Especially in the early project development phases, alternative finance methods can enable more geothermal projects to be brought to life. Community funding can also achieve public engagement and increase acceptance. In the light of the massive investments needed, especially for deep geothermal power projects, community funding is yet not considered to be functional entirely on its own, but rather in combination with other (conventional) forms of finance.

Community funding can play an important role to initiate and support geothermal projects.

The most suitable alternative finance method very much depends on the individual project characteristics and context. At the early project development stages, especially crowdfunding (shares/equity or reward-based) can be attractive options to achieve community co-ownership and to enhance project support. The high resource-related risk in the early phases leads to high return expectation of investors. Community funding is generally less risky in the construction and operation phases, but the potential returns at these stages are also less attractive.

Understanding and developing a project in a holistic way, taking into consideration technical, financial, and social dimensions as well as their interdependency is an important risk mitigation measure for project developers. It reduces the risk of interface problems and increases the chances for a Social License to Operate as well as for technical and economic success.

Further readings:

GEOENVI Recommendations for the harmonisation of geothermal environmental regulations in the EU: https://www.geoenvi.eu/publications/recommendations-for-european-harmonisation-of-geothermal-environmental-regulations-in-the-eu/

CROWDTHERMAL guidelines for Public acceptance: https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/CROWDTHERMAL-D1.4.pdf

CROWTHERMAL community for renewable energy best practices in Europe: https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/CROWDTHERMAL-D2.1-new-version.pdf

LPRC participates at the GEOENVI-CROWDTHERMAL joint webinar – part 1

On Tuesday 16 March, GEOENVI and the CROWDTHERMAL project, where LPRC leads one work package, hosted a joint online event titled: “Targeting acceptability and co-ownership for deep geothermal projects”. In this event, an expert panel discussed recommendations and ways forward for public engagement for deep geothermal, based on good practices on crowdfunding from the CROWDTHERMAL project and gave some academic perspectives on the subject.

Mission statement of both projects:

The objective of the GEOENVI project is to answer environmental concerns in terms of both impacts and risks, by first setting an adapted methodology for assessing environment impacts to the project developers, and by assessing the environmental impacts and risks of geothermal projects operational or in development in Europe.

The webinar (part 1):

Both EU projects tackle the question of public engagement with different hypothesis, so this webinar was an opportunity to gain a better overall understanding of public engagement based on two different scopes and methodologies.

The first part of the webinar was focused on the research output of the GEOENVI project. GEOENVI argues that further development of geothermal projects will boil down to creating an energy community and better communication on the side of developers. The combination of these two aspects is believed to have the potential to raise social acceptance of geothermal projects.

Building an energy community is the action of involving local stakeholders (regulators, local industries, SMEs and individual citizens) in the production of sustainable heat and/or electricity. The aim is to ensure that energy production can provide opportunities to local businesses (see similar conclusion from the Trends in geothermal webinar) as well as energy for local households. The figure below showcases some of the inititation that may be undertaken by project developpers and regulatory authorities to insert energy project in a community to the benefits of a variety of economic activities.

1Initiatives to promote the sustainable development of geothermal areas.

With regards to dissemination and communcation of project activities, GEOENVI discovered that there is a gap between how project developpers think they communicate and how the public feels it is informed. On the following figure,  it is appararent that the public generally feels poorly informed. This misunderstanding in communication draws a wedge between a project and its surrounding community. In Alsace, this wedge resulted in tension between local communities and geothermal development in spite of the geothermal potential of the area and the positive economical impact of competititive green energy on its surrounding market. The problematic is particularly interresting when we consider that misinformation leading to mlistrust of a technology is also visible in other sector (wind turbines, electric cars and more recently vaccines).

Participation in public inquiries held in Alsace 2015/2016.

Based on these two problematics, GEOENVI will provide policy recommendation for the European Union in hope that it could turn the tie of geothermal development in the continent, thus meeting climate goals whilst ensuring social gains at local level.

GEOENVI calls for European standards on information sharing by setting up minimum qualitative requirements for information sharing on energy projects. This will not only ensure better trust into new green technologies but also enables project developpers to draw conclusions from other projects that have similar minimal communication requirements:

  • Choose and collect the relevant information enabling project developpers and researchers alike to confidentially collect environmental concerns and posititve impact to compare any project with other Renewable Energy Sources (RES);
  • Adapt the communication target: distinguish ‘public’ from ‘experts’ in the communication strategy so that anyone can understand the purpose and methodlogy of an energy project in his/her/their own words;
  • Improve data accessibility and awareness of accessible information: FAIR data principle , independent appeal commintee for confidentiality issues;
  • Share reliable information: All project developpers shall ensure a pro-active data sharing strategy to inform the public in the name, of transparency and trust building.

This article continues on part 2.

LPRC @ EIT RawMaterials Brokerage

LPRC took part as one of the many participants of the recent EIT RawMaterials Brokerage event on the Call for Projects 2022 (KAVA 8). This was the first opportunity to listen from EIT RawMaterials themselves on what they want for the upcoming calls. Thanks to the event, LPRC gained knowledge that will sure implement in the elaboration of the future proposals for this year.

LPRC is an Associated Partner of EIT RawMaterials for 2021 and, therefore, it is able to participate and lead proposals.

If you are interested in collaborating in a proposal with us for this year’s EIT RawMaterials Call for Projects, please let us know!

LPRC joins PRO-ACT project TRR session

On 16 February 2021, the PRO-ACT project had its TRR – Test Readiness Review – meeting with the EC and an elected group of space experts – the PSA. Our team took part of this meeting to present results on the preparation of the artificial lunar analogue for the final demonstrations.

The meeting got together all the project partners and reviewers to show results, analyse outcomes and prepare the final demonstrationa activities in a series of presentations and organic discussions. The presentations mainly about WP4 – Manufacturing, Assembly, Integration and Test. As part of the work developed under this Work Package, LPRC (Luís Lopes) presented the design and preparation of the lunar analogue for the final project demonstrations. This lunar analogue is established in Bremen, Germany, at DFKI’s (one of the project partners facilitites). Luís gave an overview of the activities that resulted in the creation of this artificial lunar analogue, including details on the testbed, the simulant chosen as regolith representative and the distribution of the testing elements in the available space.

Follow the PRO-ACT website for more news on this exciting project!

Trends in geothermal, 16th February 2021 part 2: technology

The first part of the Baseload Trend’s geothermal webinar focused on hurdles linked to financing in new technologies and emerging trends. With regards to geothermal, the trends for the future unfold in three aspects: shallow geothermal, deep geothermal and thermal storage.

Shallow geothermal has received more and more attention recently due to the decentralisation of the energy market. Local energy demand and concepts such as energy communities are trending due to the unlikeliness of large scale and centralized power plants to meet heat and electricity requirements of all communities throughout a region, especially those most remote. In the past, geothermal would not have been able to meet these spikes in demand. Fortunately, advances in technologies, heat exchangers and miniaturization enable smaller plants and heat pumps to provide affordable and competitive energy to smaller markets. In addition, micro-grids for small markets are easier and quicker to develop than extensive grid system joining large power plants to remote and smaller energy demand. This local approach will ensure that small communities are not behind the renewable energy curve – especially important to make sure that countries will meet climate target, by ensuring a comprehensive renewable energy grid whilst promoting a fair transition where each individual has access to local affordable clean energy without bearing the costs of long and complex grid to dispatch energy home. Finally, local energy disables the need to depend on foreign oil, gas and electricity thus improving national energy security and making prices less volatile.

Main themes and subtopics of the overall CHPM concept: exploration, development, operation, market. CHPM2030 developed a concept for a new geothermal-related technology.

Shallow geothermal is only one face of the “geothermal trend coin”. Deep geothermal has a complementary role to shallow in any national grid. Whilst, shallow geothermal often implies smaller power plants (or heat pumps) for less energy demanding markets, deep geothermal often implies higher temperatures and thus higher power outputs for more energy demanding markets. Two main trends are foreseen for deep geothermal in a near future: first, scalability of operations thanks to lessons learned from the oil and gas industry (it would be possible to take lessons learned from these technologies to apply them to new geothermal fields); second, economies of scale could greatly benefit from geothermal deep drilling in the future since more drilling would reduce the marginal cost of each plant by incorporating the lessons learned from past experiences. Finally, experts believe that the future of deep geothermal plants is ultradeep rigs (around 10km deep). Such high depth is on the horizon thanks to drilling techniques developed by the oil industry. Almost any point of the globe reaches very high temperatures (around 200°C) at such depths meaning that any place could, theoretically, be producing large quantities of clean energy for decades.

Energy production is not the only benefit of geothermal. This renewable source has the added value to be able to be suited for thermal energy storage. Thermal energy storage (TES) is a technology that stocks thermal energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the stored energy can be used at a later time for heating and cooling applications and power generation. Wind and solar may be better at delivering the cheapest net kW/h, but storage is cheaper for geothermal. This is important because different perks of different energy sources emulate the best in each or in a comprehensive energy mix. Geothermal energy and thermal storage will be able to form the baseload power of an energy mix whilst fluctuating power sources such as wind and solar will supply peaks in demand. In the end, there is no silver bullet to fight climate change but, rather, a comprehensive system of clean technologies enabling a secure and fair carbon transition.

For more information on groundbreaking geothermal technologies that LPRC was a part of, consider checking out the CHPM2030 project that combine heat and power production to mining: https://www.chpm2030.eu/!

Trends in geothermal, 16th February 2021 part 1: investment

On the 16 February 2021, Baseload Capital (an investing firm) hosted its webinar on upcoming trends in the geothermal sector. Its philosophy is to act as a catalyst for green baseload electricity by funding renewable energy projects throughout the world. Currently, the company has subsidiaries in Iceland, Japan and Taiwan, which work with local communities and power companies to permit, build and commission heat power plants.

The first half of this two-part article will focus on investment in geothermal and what the future is holding for finance in energy. Geothermal represents an interesting case study for financing carbon neutrality. However, with only 2% of the global energy market, geothermal is lacking behind other energies despite its upsides: available 24/7, 365 days a year independently of weather, outside temperature or time of the day. In addition, it can serve as a baseload power (minimum amount of electric power needed to be supplied to the electrical grid at any given time) for any renewable energy mix. Day to day trends of power usage need to be met by power plants, however it is not optimal for power plants to produce the maximum needed power at all times. Geothermal power plants have average availabilities of 90% or higher, compared to about 75% for coal plants. Geothermal power is homegrown, reducing our dependence on foreign oil. So, if geothermal is so convenient why is it lagging behind other energy sources?

Geothermal suffers from several misconceptions that are often afflicting new investment opportunities. First, the Kodak core business model is a good example of neglecting new emerging trends for already established goods and services. We all know what happened to Kodak and printed photos. But the question is: would we really have acted differently if we had been in their shoes? Many examples since then seem to indicate that we tend to misjudge the potential of emerging technologies.

Second, connecting dots. Some technologies are on the shelf because their fullest potential can only be met by combining them with other technologies. When identifying 2 or more trends with inherent potential, they can create a whole new concept sparking new business opportunities in a market. Going back to geothermal, this concept is incredibly relevant. On one hand, it is a fact that energy demand is rising. On the other, the energy industry realizes that power production (heat and electricity) is too centralised and thus could face problems to reach the widespread growing demand. In parallel, it has been apparent that geothermal energy opened new opportunities for building medium and low-grade power plants for heat able to meet local demand that previously did not make sense financially. An example of this is Iceland: local communities have a growing demand for clean energy yet most of electricity production is generated around the capital Reykjavik. These conditions are perfect for local distributed geothermal power to supply local communities with affordable, clean energy based on low temperature heat.

Third, discovering new trends. Trends create momentum in a market when many people are affected by it. A large, invested community increases the likelihood of a successful emerging trend. In essence, it boils that to marketing: capturing the imagination of a targeted community with business opportunities or services that can benefit them or society as a whole. For instance, geothermal tends to be the fields of experts, scientists and selected groups of individuals. Whilst, this group produces a lot of positive ideas, disruptive technologies and discussions, outcomes tend to circulate into the same circle, depriving the overall field of a greater reach. Hence, these trends are de facto on a shelf waiting to be discovered by the wide public. Incidentally, being on the shelf does not allow one trend to find an application that would have a positive snowball effect on society.

Therefore, nowadays it is likely that new trends and investments in geothermal will focus on meeting the energy demands of local communities whilst being integrated to the economical ecosystem. A geothermal power plant could provide district heating for neighbouring homes, heat for local organic greenhouses, hot water for the local swimming pool or spa and countless other solutions benefiting communities. This comprehensive approach does not only benefit investors but has lasting positive impacts on future generations. Said impact could also be the added value needed to increase the social acceptance of geothermal. By integrating communities, businesses and private citizens in their local energy ecosystem a lasting relationship between energy producers and customers can be achieved.

For more information on citizens’ empowerment in geothermal check out the CROWDTHERMAL website: https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/!