The importance of renewable energies, including geothermal energy, is increasing more and more. Geothermal energy is worldwide the most extensively used renewable energy besides hydro-power and biomass. An important advantage of geothermal energy is its availability regardless of daytime or weather conditions.
In Germany 2008 about 162 central geothermal facilities are in operation, mainly for district heating and thermal spa’s. Most of the larger facilities are located in the Molasse Basin in the area of Munich (Unterschleißheim, Pullach, etc.)
Since 2003 the geothermal power plant in Neustadt-Glewe demonstrates the possibility of electricity production even under the geothermal conditions of Germany. In 2007 the first geothermal power plant with focus on commercial electricity production was put into operation in Landau (Rhineland-Palatinate).
In Germany and beyond the main task for developing geothermal reservoirs is the productivity enhancement of deep geothermal wells. The wells have to be stimulated. One important method for stimulating wells is hydraulic fracturing. Water or another fluid is pumped into the wells under high pressure in order to create new or to enhance already existing flow paths in the deep underground. After stimulation the wells can be used for energy production in a doublet scheme: Cold water is injected in one borehole and, after circulating through stimulated hot rocks, regained by a production well as hot water (basic idea of the Hot-Dry-Rock-concept).
The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) is involved in some research projects on methods to develop geothermal reservoirs in Germany and France (GeneSys-project, Soultz, Groß Schönebeck). The Hot-Dry-Rock concept is essential for the projects “Soultz” and “GeneSys”.
Correlated with the increasing number of geothermal facilities the operating reliability of these facilities comes into view. A project of BGR deals with aspects of longterm reliabilty of geothermal facilities (handling of high saline waters, corrosion, etc.).
BGR also supports developing countries by initiating or improving the use of geothermal energy (Geotherm programme). In this framework scientists of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources are working in several developing countries, characterized by favourable geothermal conditions, in order to advance the exploration, exploitation and later usage of geothermal reservoirs.
More information on geothermal energy:
Projects and reports:
- Research Project GeneSys
- Geotherm Programm (GEOTHERM)
- Hot-Dry-Rock project Soultz
- Research project Groß Schönebeck
- Annual Report Reserves, Resources and Availability of Energy Resources 2007 (PDF, 1 MB)
Contact 1: Scientific questions
Contact 2: Technical details