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Geothermal energy to get your hands on: An excursion to the Gross Schönebeck Geothermal Research Borehole in Brandenburg’s Schorfheide forest region attracted keen interest.
© BINE Informationsdienst
4th VDI Conference on Geothermal Technologies

Impetus from Gross Schönebeck

What contribution can be made by geothermal energy to future electricity and heating supplies in Germany and which steps are necessary in order to utilise its potential? On 14 and 15 March, around 80 scientist discussed strategies, technologies and practical experience in the Brandenburg town of Joachimsthal, which is close to the geothermal research borehole at Gross Schönebeck.

In his introductory lecture, Joachim Nitsch (German Aerospace Centre, DLR, Stuttgart) presented the findings from a soon to be published study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). This develops long-term scenarios and strategies for expanding renewable energies by 2060. The message is that renewable energies are in a position to secure complete energy supplies for modern industrial societies within the foreseeable future. This requires, however, an intelligent combination of all individual technologies and energy sources. In a scenario until 2050, the study expects that deep geothermal energy will achieve an eight per cent share of the end energy consumption. Together with near-surface geothermal energy, a total share of 13 per cent is expected to be achieved.

Ullrich Bruchmann (BMU) explained the research funding provided by the German government in the geothermal field with its goals and results: the experience gained from various large-scale projects has provided considerable expertise in Germany. The opportunities and possibilities offered by petrothermal power plants shall now be demonstrated. Bruchmann is calling for a concept for the market introduction of geothermal energy with the aim of achieving 1 gigawatt of electrical power in around 10 years. The feed-in tariff provided by the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) provides a solid planning basis. The geothermal potential provided by the fault zones and crystalline rock needs to be tapped, according to Bruchmann. Concrete tasks identified by him include, for example, the preparation of geological data and the management of a geothermal information system. An internationally acclaimed system has already been developed with geotIS. He also says that there is a current need for research in investigating the seismic aspects.

Detailed progress made with the exploration, drilling and plant technology was presented in various thematic blocks. Potential-based studies and practice-related reports clarified the opportunities and problems with the implementation, for example in dealing with high-saline thermal water.

By way of conclusion, Christian Pletl (Munich's municipal utility company) and Stefan Brendel-Schürmann (GASAG Berliner Gaswerke AG) presented studies on inner-city heat supplies using geothermal energy in the major cities of Munich and Berlin. Munich’s municipal utility company is intending to pursue its vision of feeding district heating network entirely with renewable energies by 2040, whereby a substantial contribution shall be provided by hydrothermal energy from the Malm Aquifer. In Berlin, the scientists involved are still very cautious when it comes to specific development plans. There is still too little knowledge about the geological structure of the ground beneath Berlin.

The conference papers entitled “Geothermische Technologien” (Geothermal Technologies) can now be ordered from the VDI-Verlag publishing house (in German only).

BINE “Projektinfo” brochures on this topic

Tracking deep geothermal energy (09/2011)
Geothermal electricity generation combined with a heating network (10/2009)
Geothermal electricity generation in Landau (14/2007)



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