Europe considers geothermal energy as alternative gas
The heating plant in Munich’s southern Sendling neighborhood has been running for more than a century on gas, often imported from afar.
But more and more, it is the hot water from deep underground of the station that provides energy.
Next to the original 19th-century red brick factory is a new, boxy geothermal unit surrounded by a tangle of ductwork.
Work on the new installation began in 2016 and opens in 2021, before Russia launches its assault on Ukraine and shuts down pipelines to Europe.
But the timely opening of the modern unit – one of the largest in Europe – is a welcome coincidence for the city, which, like the rest of the country, is facing the challenge of compensating. replenish Russia’s lost gas supplies.
Munich is pouring one billion euros ($1.1 billion) until 2035 to develop Geothermal energy and make the city warm neutral carbon.
“We are sitting on a gold mine,” said Christian Peltl, geothermal energy manager at SWR, who runs the plant in Sendling.
“Munich has the perfect geological location” in an area known for its thermal baths, says Peltl.
Across Europe, interest in geothermal projects has grown in recent years as officials seek to decarbonize their systems. energy systems.
The conflict in Ukraine has reinforced this trend. Moscow’s invasion last year brought Russia’s gas shipments to Europe to a halt and caused an alarming increase in Electricity bill across Europe.
After peaking, prices in the spot market have been falling in recent weeks. But the crisis has highlighted the continent’s vulnerabilities in the energy sector.
Reliable and sustainable geothermal energy seems to be the perfect alternative to gas.
Piped hot water is pumped up from three kilometers (1.9 miles) below the surface. Heat is transferred intranetconnects nearby houses to the plant, while cooled hot water is sent back underground.
“There has been a real boom in orders since the beginning of the (energy) crisis,” says Peltl.
At the end of 2022, the German government announced a plan to increase geothermal energy production tenfold by 2030 to 10 terawatt hours (Twh).
To achieve the ambitious goal, Germany, which uses 50% of its gas for heating, wants to start “at least 100 new geothermal projects”.
Across the French border, the government announced a plan on Thursday to increase the number of deep geothermal energy programs by 40% by 2030.
In Hungary, the government issued a decree in October to expand the use of this energy source.
The Italian government is also preparing to support the expansion, while in Denmark the largest plant in the country will open in Aarhus in 2030, providing 20% of the city’s heating.
When fully operational, the new plant in Munich will be able to provide warmth to 80,000 local households through an extensive network of pipes.
The station is largely automated, with operation being controlled from a room in the old part of the mansion.
Thomas Gilg, head of the plant in Munich, said that while geothermal energy is a boon for those who have access to it, “it is only part of the solution”.
Not all places are suitable for geothermal energy. Above all, the energy drawn from below the surface must be used locally.
“We must not fool ourselves. With this factory, we cannot supply the whole of Munich,” said Gilg.
Digging work to install a factory in Strasbourg, France, is believed to have caused two small earthquakes in the area in late 2020.
Still, Sendling plant operators see the potential as “huge,” according to Peltl.
According to the European Commission, geothermal energy can provide carbon-free heating for “up to 25%” of residents in the EU.
© 2023 AFP
quote: Europe considers geothermal energy as an alternative gas (2023, February 3) taken February 3, 2023 from https://techxplore.com/news/2023-02-europe-geothermal-energy-gas -alternative.html
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