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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.

The EU green deal: a new energy and climate policy framework for a Geothermal decade?

On 10 July 2020, EGEC hosted an IGN online meeting on geothermal energy’s place in the new EU Green Deal Framework. The discussion was mainly centered around the idea that the new decade will be a Geothermal Decade. To back up this claim, Philip Dumas (EGEC’s Secretary) first exposed the growing relevance of geothermal in the current EU energy market. The push toward climate neutrality by 2050 together with an increasing number of renewable energy sources will call for smart management of the energy load and baseload energy to ensure constant levels of electricity throughout the day while fluctuating energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar can rapidly respond to a spike or a decrease in energy demand. According to experts, geothermal energy can serve as baseload energy sources as its energy output is constant throughout the day and available 24/7. In addition, geothermal energy can provide both heating and cooling which represent 64.4% of the energy consumption of an average EU household.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the urgent need for green recovery in Europe and beyond. As such, Phillipe Dumas exposed several current and forthcoming EU funding schemes that will be suited for Geothermal Energy (exploration, drilling and operation) together with EU initiatives for green development as part of both the Green Recovery and the surrounding European Green Deal.

  • Clean Energy for EU Islands: The Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat is an initiative on behalf of the European Commission aimed at catalysing the clean energy transition on EU Islands. European islands often face significant challenges when it comes to energy supply and energy costs. Due to geographic location, small economies of scale, and limited or absent interconnection to the mainland or to other islands, many islands are still heavily dependent upon costly imported fossil fuels to generate electricity or to meet their heating and cooling needs. Unlike other intermittent energy sources, geothermal energy could provide a stable, sustainable, and affordable energy supply for a wide variety of potential uses that are not restricted to electricity generation but encompass many types of direct uses.
  • Coal Region Transition under the framework of the Just Transition: Geothermal energy is in many ways similar to conventional extractive industries such as mining for minerals. It requires extensive understanding of geological formations to identify possible production sites. The equipment and know-how for developing a geothermal production closely resembles those for conventional drilling. Geothermal projects are not comparable to mining jobs, which are steady on the same site for decades, but a thorough industrial strategy to promote geothermal heat and power production can contribute to the solution with the development of many smaller projects over long periods in a same region, and ad-hoc industries like tourism, agro-industry, and balneology. By contributing to reducing energy poverty and improving quality of life: coal regions tend to be characterized by a high prevalence of energy poverty due to low building quality and low income for a large swath of the population. By replacing coal for home heating, and with no air-emissions, geothermal is a solution for improving air quality in cities.
  • Just Transition Fund: The European Union is committed in becoming  the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050. This requires significant investment from both the EU and the national public sector, as well as the private sector. The European Green Deal’s Investment Plan – the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan – will mobilise public investment and help to unlock private funds through EU financial instruments, notably InvestEU, which would lead to at least €1 trillion of investments.
  • The Innovation Fund: an European Financing programme that stems from the EU ETS, which aims to invest part of the revenues from the European carbon trading scheme to the development of innovative clean energy technologies. The Innovation Fund does not restrict any innovative first-of-a-kind technology, provided its demonstration leads to material avoidance of GHG emissions, it has the potential for widespread application or to significantly lower the costs of transitioning towards a low-carbon economy in the covered sectors.

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!

LPRC at the “Geothermal energy in my backyard: tackling energy poverty with renewables” webinar

On June 25, took place the “Geothermal energy in my backyard: tackling energy poverty with renewables” webinar hosted by EGEC. This event tackled several issues that are particularly relevant in today’s climate.

Marion Malafosse (Policy Officer at the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy) discussed finance options laid down under the European Recovery Package, which makes available budget to advance the green and digital transition. This Package specifically reemphasizes the role of the EU Green Deal as a motor for the EU economy. In the context of carbon neutrality, heating and cooling it is expected to play a crucial role. First to decarbonise society, second to reach the industrial sector which remain to this day untouched by the green wave and third, by getting local communities involved in small scale geothermal heating projects to further increase the share of green energy in Europe.

The overarching goal of the European Commission is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. It will soon publish its EU strategy on energy system integration. This strategy is a roadmap to assess what is necessary in the energy sector in the medium and longer term. It will not only tackle electricity and cooling, but also transport, digitalization and agriculture. The aim is to assess how these pieces will play together to reach climate neutrality. This strategy will translate into policies and calls for proposals which will greatly expand the array of opportunities in green development both for citizens and companies.

The second strategy is the Renovation Wave tackling energy efficiency for buildings. A big proportion of buildings in the EU are energy inefficient. Finding strategies to change this can lower CO2 emissions, in line with EU climate objectives. In addition to call for energy efficiency development, another likely impact of this wave is to boost local jobs and local enterprises dealing with construction.

Regarding energy poverty, the webinar showcased 3 case studies, highlighting the role geothermal energy can play for local communities. Geothermal energy is not only domestic, it is local. As such, all operations related to production, operation and consumption are made at local level, benefiting local communities by reducing costs. In addition, geothermal energy is strongly developing and new technologies open the door to hybrid technologies, complex financial solutions (prosumers) and enabling cooperation with social programmes to include all citizens.

LPRC participates in the GeoConnect³d event

On the 24 June, the European Federation of Geologists hosted the “GeoConnect³d – Framing geothermal resource management” online event. The GeoConnect³d project develops and tests a new methodological approach to prepare and disclose geological information for policy support and subsurface management. The improved approach uses two regional-level case studies – the Roer-to-Rhine region and the Pannonian Basin. These regional, cross-border case studies are chosen to be complementary and sufficiently different in geological setting and degree of implementation of subsurface exploitation and management, in order to maximize their pan-European relevance. A novel bottom-up approach introduces two concepts that increase the geological understanding of an area and are aimed at providing a coherent geological context for evaluating subsurface applications and resolving subsurface management issues.

On top of the project presentation, the main discussion was on Wallonia’s (a region in Belgium) geothermal energy potential. The project discovered tangible opportunities for geothermal development on the Mons-Chaudfontaine axis. This potential is believed to be due to the particular geological setting of the Dinantian limestones. From an operational perspective, this would translate to low to medium enthalpy plants with the added benefit of being close to local communities with high demand in heating.

Based on these promising results, further investigations will be conducted and will need to go further in the central and eastern parts of Wallonia to fully discover the promising horizons and characterize them (depth, thickness, temperature and permeability).

LPRC attends the EU Sustainable Week (part 2)

LPRC participated in this year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW 2020) from the 23 to the 26 June 2020, an event hosted by the European Commission. Due to the current limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic this event was held online with many talks, presentations and discussions. This event enables citizens and companies to learn and exchange about sustainable energy, digitalization and green development.

24 June 2020

On the 24, the focus of the discussions was on the Renovation Wave, LIFE clean energy transition and the European Investment Advisory Hub.

The Renovation Wave initiative is a priority under the European Green Deal and the recovery plan for the EU, aimed at increasing the rate and quality of renovation of existing buildings and thereby helping to decarbonise the building stock. Given the relatively labour-intensive nature of renovation work and the way in which this matches the “green, digital and resilient” ambition of the Commission recovery package, the Next Generation EU Communication talks of regulatory and financial support to “at least doubling the annual renovation rate of existing building stock”.

The Clean Energy Transition sub-programme of LIFE will be a continuation of the market uptake activities, currently funded under Horizon 2020. The aim is to support the objectives of EU legislation and policies in the transition towards a decarbonised energy system and a decarbonised economy. It will include capacity building and dissemination of knowledge, new skills, and innovative techniques in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The European Investment Advisory Hub (“Advisory Hub” or “the Hub”) is a joint initiative with the European Commission, which helps project promoters, the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other financial institutions achieve their mission and get investment projects off the ground. The Hub is often the first point of contact for those who need advisory expertise from the EIB Group and its partners to help projects to get financed. The Hub works in education, agriculture, healthcare, environment, research and innovation, energy, transport, and other sectors.

25 June 2020

The last day of the EUSEW 2020 focused on the Innovation and Modernisation Funds. Both funds will mobilise jointly some 24 billion EUR. These funding instruments will be pivotal to mobilise further investments under the Green Deal with a view to reach climate neutrality.

The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. This body will invest €10 billion up to 2030 in Europe’s climate neutral future. Its main objectives are to avoid emissions and to boost competitiveness. The Innovation Fund will support disruptive technologies decreasing the harmful impact of energy intensive industries and support the development of renewable energies, energy storage as well as carbon capture, use and storage.

The Modernisation Fund is a dedicated funding programme to support 10 lower-income EU Member States in their transition to climate neutrality by helping to modernise their energy systems and improve energy efficiency. The beneficiary Member States are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The Modernisation Fund will support investments In generation and use of energy from renewable sources, energy efficiency and energy storage.

Link of all presentations: https://eusew.eu/programme

LPRC attends the EU Sustainable Week (part 1)

LPRC participated in this year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW 2020) from the 23 to the 26 June 2020, an event hosted by the European Commission. Due to the current limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic this event was held online with many talks, presentations and discussions. This event enables citizens and companies to learn and exchange about sustainable energy, digitalization and green development.

23 June 2020

The first event was the award-winning ceremony celebrating projects and EU citizens which work to push the EU as a whole toward climate neutrality.

  • The winner in the Engagement category was Clear 2.0, a pan-European project spanning from Spain to Slovenia. The project helps citizens to become producers and consumers of renewable energy in their own homes.
  • In the Youth category, Fair (FER) won. From Zagreb, Croatia, the project teaches electrical engineering students how to do household audits to identify energy-saving solutions.
  • The Innovation award went to REMOTE – Remote area Energy Supply with Multiple Options for integrated hydrogen-based Technologies) – a project started in Italy, Greece and Norway. The project helps locally produced renewable energy to be stored.
  • The first, second and third prizes of the EaP went to Green Light Moldova; EU4Civil Society Energy Efficiency in Armenian Communities; and Biomass Energy and Energy-efficient Technologies in Georgia.
  • The Citizens’ Award went to the Dutch project cVPP, based in Eindhoven. The project helps local communities to take charge of their renewable energy generation through community-based Virtual Power Plants (cVPPs) in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland.
  • The three winners of the Women in Energy awards went to: Sophie Attali (Director of Guide Topten in France), Katharina Habersbrunner (Women Engage for a Common Future) and Ada Ámon (Climate Commissoner to the Mayor of Budapest).

Following the award-winning ceremony, a discussion on The EU’s support for clean energy technologies and innovation was held by European Commissioner Kadri Simson and IEA Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol.

Commissioner Simson announced that the Clean Energy Transition – Technologies and Innovations Report will soon be released, together with the State of the Energy Union report this Autumn. Funding clean technologies has gotten a massive boost recently through the Recovery Plan for Europe that the Commission proposed a few weeks ago. The Green Deal is its growth strategy at its core. So, it is designed to help accelerate innovative investment through a number of programs:

  • The reinforced Multi Annual Financial Framework, with the proposed increase in Horizon Europe to 94 billion EUR will bring extra resources for the digital and green transitions. Horizon will allow the Commission to support the most innovative new ideas.
  • The InvestEU research and innovation window of 10 billion EUR guarantees help to scale-up private sector investments in R&I. Most importantly it will help downstream bringing the results to the market and seeing a tangible solution.
  • The European Commission also created a new Strategic Investment Facility to support private investments in European strategic value chains with a guarantee of 15 billion EUR. So, any company planning to invest in clean hydrogen technologies for example, you could use the Strategic Investment Facility for projects to scale up electrolysers or for carbon capture and storage solutions.

in July a first 1 billion EUR call under the Innovation Fund will be launched. It will fund – amongst other things – demonstration projects for innovative hydrogen-based and renewable technologies. Soon after, in September, the European Commission will adopt a Green Deal call of 1 billion EUR under Horizon 2020. Of that, more than one third will be dedicated to energy topics, including a call for a large-scale electrolyser.

The private sector also has a very important role in funding clean energy technologies. In fact, private investments still represent roughly three quarters of R&I funding. That’s why the EU will also launch a new Hydrogen Alliance, to bring public and private to the same table.

Link of all presentations: https://eusew.eu/programme