The Challenge

Europe is confronted with a number of significant challenges which are influenced by globalisation trends and political changes. For example, strong dependence on gas supplies from Russia is a potential threat not only to Europe’s energy security but also to European society and industry as a whole. The use of geothermal energy as a renewable resource is a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring a secure and sustainable energy supply in Europe

Heat from the Earth’s interior has been used since ancient Roman times and continues to be a valuable and sustainable energy source to this day. The 24 MW geothermal plant in Rittershoffen in France, for example, supplies process heat to a nearby industrial site. But geothermal energy can also be used to generate electricity, as illustrated by the German geothermal power plant at Insheim, which supplies some 8,000 households with electrical power.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) have the potential to become a cornerstone of Europe’s future renewable energy strategy. EGS can provide baseload energy 24 hours a day with near zero carbon emissions and can be implemented almost anywhere in the world. Favourable locations normally lie at depths of between 3,000 and 5,000 metres below the surface, usually in hard rock formations such as granite. As drilling costs rise exponentially with increasing depth, they represent the main cost drivers of geothermal plants, typically accounting for more than half of the investment costs.