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Recap of the “Focus on Geothermal – Energy for the Weekend” Webinar

How can deep geothermal be green whilst releasing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?

The figure below seems to indicate that deep geothermal energy is not as green as it could be assumed, in some instances reaching levels of emissions comparable to fossil fuels energy sources (gas, coal and oil). However, this graph is a simplification of what is really at stakes. First of all, geothermal emissions here are presented as life-long emission meaning resulting from exploration, drilling, building the plant, manufacturing of all the parts, operation and decommission. All but stages but operation are CO2 emissions that currently cannot be avoided because of the reliance on fossil-fuel for manufacturing any part and the value chain in general.

With regards to CO2 emissions during geothermal operation one might wonder why an energy source that does not burn fossil fuel nor carbon content still produces GHG emissions. And this is due to the CO2 content into the water reservoir from which heat is extracted. Think about a bottle of sparkling water when the lid is on, there is no bubble rising to the surface of the water and therefore no gas can expand, in short: CO2 is dissolute in the water, the system is sealed. Once you open the bottle, you witness this characteristic “pop” (due to expanding gases) followed by a rush of CO2 bubbles to the surface that then make their way to the atmosphere: the system is open.

Deep geothermal reservoirs, which are polluting, function in the very same manner as a bottle of sparkling water (albeit at much higher pressure). Drilling to a geothermal reservoir in order to harvest its heat means opening a closed system. The presence of CO2 in deep geothermal reservoirs is a naturally occurring phenomenon linked to Earth magmatic events and decay of any living organism.

Luckily, geothermal CO2 emissions during operation can be mitigated, as Hörmann Grupp presented, there are ways to make a geothermal operation 100% green. Their experiments were based on a pre-existing body of literature on carbon capture. During their tests, they further confirmed that it is possible to capture CO2 released from the brine and reinject it in the geothermal reservoir so that it never pollutes the atmosphere. Furthermore, thanks to the high pressure put on the CO2, it dissolves into the water thus not perturbing the heat exchange critical for any geothermal plant.

Experiments and new technologies are improving geothermal each day making the energy greener and more reliable than ever. It is really a breakthrough that will untroubledly help trigger a massive growth of geothermal in the energy market worldwide.

LPRC during 2020 – a summary

The past year was an atypical one, there is no denying it. Despite the many problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, LPRC still managed to keep up with its work plans. All team activities – where the EU-funded projects are of most importance – ran successfully. Although not without a certain degree of adaptation. A quick summary of our activities on each of our EU projects during 2020 is given below:

INTERMIN: LPRC participated in the project’s main discussions and contributed with dissemination activities. The team’s biggest workshare was done in 2019 regarding WP2 – Raw Materials Sector Skills, Gaps and Needs.

MACARONIGHT: In 2020, LPRC coordinated the second installment of  the MACARONIGHT project after its success in 2o19. Coordination included preparation and monitoring of activities in different islands as well as analysis of the outcomes.

PRO-ACT: For this space project, LPRC contributed with geological information for the preparation of the lunar analogues where the robotic elements shall be tested during 2021. LPRC also presented the project during the EGU 2020 event.

ROBOMINERS: LPRC leads WP8 – Active clustering and roadmapping – and during 2020 the team contributed to the exchange of information with several projects and initiatives, kickstarted Focus Groups discussions and launched the Horizon Scanning activities. LPRC also contributed with the dissemination of the project at several opportunities.

AGEO: Within AGEO, the team leads communication and dissemination efforts. In 2020, besides the outreach efforts, LPRC also contributed to strengthening the impact of the project by leveraging communication with other EU projects and initiatives.

CROWDTHERMAL: During 2020, LPRC’s role was two-fold. First, the team largely contributed to the communication efforts with the management of social media channels and preparation of material such as factsheets. Second, LPRC kickstarted activities for WP4 – Integrated Development Schemes, which it leads.

ENGIE: LPRC started discussions and prepared ENGIE-related activities for the Researchers Night in 2020. For this task, LPRC hosted a high number of (online) workshops. The team also contributed with dissemination of the project, as seen with its participation on the EGU 2020 event.

UNEXUP: Continuing LPRC’s tasks from UNEXMIN, in UNEXUP the team also leads dissemination efforts. Therefore, LPRC was responsible for the development of all outreach material – both online and physical. Another important task, was the team’s contribution to the market analysis and go-to-market strategy set for the project’s implementation.

MOBI-US: Within this education-based project LPRC had two main tasks. It led outreach efforts during the whole year with the development and implementation of dissemination actions. The other relevant task was the contribution to the major guidelines for the implementation of the MOBI-US network. Here, LPRC contributed with an extensive analysis on the current and future gaps of the raw materials sector.

Besides contributing to EU-projects LPRC was also active in other areas including policy analysis, science communication and use of foresight methodologies.

We hope to have an even better 2021 with more projects and more work!

Shallow Geothermal Days 2020: Day 1: Minutes

On Friday, 4th December 2020, the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) held the first day of the Shallow Geothermal Energy Days 2020. LPRC participatedin the event in light of the CROWDTHERMAL project.

The event focused solely on geothermal at shallow depth, specifically heat pumps. A geothermal heat pump (GHP) or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. The whole event highlighted the role of shallow geothermal energy within the scope of the climate transition and the EU Carbon neutrality. EGEC acknowledged that geothermal energy is not the silver bullet of the climate transition, but it has an important role to play in the next 4 decades given its inherent capabilities and the EU’s potential for low enthalpy geothermal.

Geothermal has a bright future in Europe for 2 main reasons. First, the technology is green and highly competitive when it comes to space (see the figure). Second, geothermal can follow the fluctuating demand of energy within its grid thus disabling reliance on supplemental electricity further increasing the energy efficiency of buildings whilst decreasing their operating costs. This has the spillover effect to fight energy poverty. Energy poverty is a particularly urgent matter at a time where most people have to remain at home for longer hours per day due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It is important because a Just Energy Transition is an inclusive one.

CROWDTHERMAL meeting, 15-17 September, online

From the 15th to the 17th September 2020, the CROWDTHERMAL consortium held three successive meetings to prepare the start of the second year of the project. These meetings were successively a General Assembly (15th September), the Advisory Board meeting (16th September) and finally the 3rd Consortium meeting (17th September). The CROWDTHERMAL project aims to empower the European public to directly participate in the development of geothermal projects with the help of alternative financing schemes (crowdfunding) and social engagement tools.

During the General Assembly, the CROWDTHERMAL consortium discussed the progress made during the first year of the project and each partner presented the summary of the work performed in its respective tasks. In the first year of the project, La Palma Research Centre had a dual role in the project. First and foremost, it was part of the Communication and Dissemination Work Package together with the European Federation of Geologists. LPRC led the communication strategy on social media including two successful campaigns: the first showcasing the presentation video of the project on YouTube, while the second highlighted the best practises regarding alternative funding schemes for energy projects across Europe. Second, LPRC led the preparations for CROWDTHERMAL Work Package 4 “Integrated Deployment schemes“ starting November 2020. This Work Package aims at creating a social-media powered platform that will support the deployment of integrated development schemes for geothermal energy utilising alternative finance and community engagement tools. With regards to this Work Package, LPRC started the work on the CROWDTHERMAL sustainability plans that are aimed to facilitate the efficient market uptake of results and the sustainability of the project after the EC-funded period.

For the Advisory Board meeting, a group of experts discussed the findings and issues encountered around the project. The main topic of discussion was centred around the social acceptance of geothermal energy. Based on empirical data provided by the project on geothermal energy around Europe (WP 1, Addressing the bottlenecks of public engagement for community-based geothermal development) and regarding the place of participative finance to geothermal projects (WP 2, Community-based geothermal energy financing principles and WP3, Auxiliary and alternative pathways to risk mitigation), it became apparent that CROWDTHERMAL has indeed the unique opportunity to raise awareness about the potential of geothermal energy for climate change mitigation and to enhance citizen empowerment in energy at the same time. To that end, the project will focus more on educating the public on the advantages of geothermal energy and on the opportunity given to any investor by diverse participative financing schemes.

During the 3rd Consortium meeting, all the partners deliberated on the upcoming actions to be taken in the second year of the project. For this year, LPRC will continue to lead dissemination on social media and increase the volume of campaigns and will also lead the development of the project deployment schemes. The aim is to connect the new approaches brought forward by CROWDTHERMAL with conventional financing, public engagement and risk mitigation schemes and launch a new European mobilisation campaign with the help of social media as well as with the help of targeted conferences, workshops and by mobilising EFG Third Parties and the Altfinator Network (CFH).

Learn more about CROWDTHERMAL on the project´s website (https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/) and follow the project´s daily activities on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) @CROWDTHERMAL_EU.

CROWDTHERMAL Consortium e-meeting, online

On the 2nd July 2020, the CROWDTHERMAL consortium had its second Consortium e-meeting since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This productive meeting unfolded in two parts. First, partners addressed the problems caused by the worldwide pandemic and responding lockdown affecting the project such as postponing face-to-face meetings and delays in some Work Packages involving on-site studies. Thanks to the fruitful internal discussions among partners, the CROWDTHERMAL consortium shall not suffer any permanent drawbacks and shall pursue its goal of empowering EU citizens in the development of geothermal projects with the help of alternative financing schemes.

Second, the CROWDTHERMAL consortium reflected on the work performed during the first 10 months of the project and each partner drew a roadmap of its foreseen actions. At this occasion, La Palma Research Centre had the opportunity to unveil both the preparatory work performed under Work Package 4: integrated development schemes (starting in November 2020 and led by La Palma Research Centre) and on-going and foreseen action for Work Packages 6: Dissemination and communication.

CROWDTHERMAL project e-meeting

Balazs Bodo (Senior Advisor, LPRC) presented current objectives of Work Package 4: integrated development schemes. The aim of this block will be to connect the new approaches brought forward by CROWDTHERMAL with conventional financing, public engagement and risk mitigations schemes and launch a new European mobilisation campaign with the help of social media as well as with the help of targeted conferences, workshops and by mobilising EFG Third Parties (EFG) and the Altfinator Network (CFH).

Regarding Dissemination and Communication, Gauthier Quinonez (Junior Project Manager, LPRC) presented the results of all CROWDTHERMAL social media activities. Over the past 10 months, CROWDTHERMAL social media saw a sharp increase in community engagement partly due to the weekly posting of educational factsheets on geothermal energy, demonstrating a growing interest of the European population in sustainable energy. On top of past activities, LPRC disclosed its views on the future CROWDTHERMAL Social Media Platform, which will enable better communication between project partners as well as a higher visibility of every work packages findings. The objective is for society to be able to follow closely the evolution of the project while taking an active part in geothermal energy development in Europe. To that end, La Palma Research Centre will be at the forefront of the development of CROWDTHERMAL’s strategy for advocating geothermal energy, crowdfunding for sustainable energy and citizen empowerment in green energy. This strategy will be unveiled to the public in September 2020.

Stay tuned!