One unfailing and reliable energy source can be found under the earth’s surface: the heat of the earth itself. Use of this heat is also referred to as geothermics. Its strength lies in the fact that it is potentially available at a constant level throughout the year, regardless of the season, time of day or weather. It can therefore make a great contribution towards ending our dependency on fuels such as coal, oil and gas which are harmful to the climate.
The Federal Government’s goal is to expand the use of renewable energy sources, as these are key to achieving climate neutrality by 2045. Making use of geothermal energy to generate electricity and heat will be a decisive step forward for Germany in this respect.
Innovative technology: deep geothermics will be less location-dependent in future
The engineers and researchers of the Eavor geothermal energy project that is based in Geretsried south of Munich are working on an innovative loop technology. This new technology requires no thermal water to be present at geothermal energy sites.
“If this experiment is successful, this will be not only a great example of top-notch engineering, but it will mean even greater progress in our heating transition. It would allow for geothermal energy to be used independently of thermal water, in many places where this is not currently possible, and in larger amounts, too,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his visit to the project headquarters.
Olaf Scholz learned more about the new deep geothermics power plant together with Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder, Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger, other political decision makers, as well as the Canadian Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz.
Thanks to its innovative technology, this project could show the way forward and make an important contribution to a successful heating transition in Germany, Europe and around the world. “If we give this novel type of project and idea a chance, it will give rise to new prosperity,” the Federal Chancellor stressed.
The innovative technology works in a way that is similar to an underground heat exchanger. Water circulates in the boreholes in deep layers of rock as a heat medium. This water is fed into the system only once, before it is put into operation, and is then contained in a closed-loop circuit. This will allow for deep geothermal energy to be used independently of location in future.
The innovative technology of the Eavor project would allow for a considerable increase in the share of the energy mix that is accounted for by geothermal energy. The Eavor project is currently discussing partnership opportunities with the municipal utilities of a number of large German cities in connection with the heating transition.
Owing to favourable geological conditions, most deep geothermal plants are located in southern Germany. 42 deep geothermal projects are operating across Germany. There is also increased interest in this form of geothermal energy in the North and in other regions, and 12 plants are currently under construction. A deep geothermal plant in Schwerin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) was inaugurated in April 2023. Another 82 facilities all over Germany are currently at the planning stage.
Ten times more geothermal heat for the heat network by 2030
In order to be able to promote the use of geothermal energy more effectively, the Federal Government launched an initiative last year that includes funding for exploration projects. This cushions the risks involved and allows for exploration to find the most worthwhile locations for geothermal projects.
The Federal Government aims to increase the use of geothermal energy as much as possible by 2030. The Federal Chancellor said that ten times more geothermal heat is to be fed into the heat network than now: “This is an ambitious goal, but a secure and most of all an affordable supply of renewable energy is not only an advantage for our citizens, it is also crucial for our economy.”
The EU Commission is also focusing on the Eavor project in Geretsried with its funding activities, granting the project a 91.6 million euro grant from the EU Innovation Fund EUIF.
Germany is picking up speed: photovoltaic and wind energy are on the rise
The Federal Government has already taken many steps towards expanding renewable energy sources, aiming to make Germany one of the world’s first climate-neutral industrialised countries by 2045. “We are removing unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, increasing the volume of tenders and accelerating planning processes significantly,” said Scholz, emphasising the progress that has been made in expanding solar and wind energy.
More than 30 football fields' worth of photovoltaic panels per day
The rate at which photovoltaic systems are being added in Germany has almost doubled in the past year. “From 17 to more than 30 football fields' worth of photovoltaic panels – every day, that is,” the Federal Chancellor pointed out.
The Federal Cabinet recently adopted its first Solar Package that provides for a faster expansion of solar energy systems. The procedure for citizens who wish to install photovoltaic panels on roofs, balconies and in outdoor areas is going to be simplified and made less bureaucratic, enabling them to use the solar power they have generated more effectively.
Approval for over 200 new wind turbines
Crucial steps were taken in the past twelve months, also with regard to wind power. Approval was granted for more than 200 wind turbines in June alone: more than twice as many as in the year before, and more than six power generators per day.
“Even now, this is more than the four to five turbines we would like to build every day to reach our goal in 2030! That’s great news also for Germany as a business location and for investors,” Scholz reported.
More than 80 billion euros' worth of investments in Germany
Numerous companies are currently planning to make large-scale investments in Germany, for example in new battery factories, semiconductor factories, new networks and systems. This is a good sign that shows that Germany is an industrial location with plenty of room for innovation and production. It is also a good sign that tens of thousands of good jobs are being created with suppliers, local craft businesses and in Germany’s traditional medium-sized companies. The Federal Government alone is going to invest over 100 billion euros over the next year to promote transformation and climate protection.
“Just a few weeks ago, the state premier and myself went to Erlangen, as Siemens is investing a billion euros in Germany, for example in a high-tech campus and highly automated factories,” Olaf Scholz reiterated.
“All of these investors want to know if enough affordable renewable energy will be available locally in the future, and that is one of the reasons I am so pleased to see your pioneering spirit,” the Federal Chancellor said in view of the promising deep geothermics project in Geretsried.
Geothermal energy is a key energy supply component which the Federal Government plans to make even greater use of, especially for heat production.