BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Geothermal energy

Drilling of the Genesys geothermal  well on the premises of the GEOZENTRUM in Hanover Drilling of the Genesys geothermal well on the premises of the GEOZENTRUM in Hanover Source: BGR

Traditionally people utilise the earth heat for cooking or for bathing at places where high temperatures occur in the shallow underground. However, high temperatures in the underground are not necessary for the utilisation of the earth heat. In many countries like Germany the warmth of the shallow underground serves more and more as source to heat buildings. Usually borehole heat exchangers until a depth of about 100 m have been drilled for this purpose.

The utilisation of hot rock or hot water from great depth (deep geothermal energy) is more challenging and more risky. But from an energetic point of view it is more worthwhile too.

Whatever the depth of the resource is, in principle it can be exploited round the clock. This is an important advantage against weather-related renewable resources.

In Germany and worldwide the utilisation of the earth heat becomes more important. Large geothermal facilities in Germany are mainly located in the area of Munich, in the South German Molasse Basin. Here the conditions in the deep underground are in particular favourable for the extraction of hot thermal water. Other regions are the Upper Rhine Valley and the North German Basin where geothermal facilities have been operated with thermal water out of a depth between 2000 and 4000 meter. Large geothermal facilities in Germany serve for district heating but in some cases also for geothermal power production.

BGR is engaged in research and demonstration projects for deep geothermal energy development. Two deep geothermal wells in the area of Hanover have been operated by BGR. Here the utilisation of geothermal resources is investigated and tested exemplarily for the conditions in the North German Basin. The key challenge for a more widespread utilization of deep geothermal energy is the creation or improvement of water pathways in low permeable rock. BGR addresses this topic in research projects. Beyond, BGR deals with aspects of drilling technology and geomechanical questions related to deep geothermal energy. An important aspect is furthermore the seismic monitoring of geothermal facilities and the investigation of induced seismicity. Geochemical aspects related to the longterm performance of geothermal installations are of increasing relevance for BGR too.

The activities of BGR are not limited to Germany. BGR supports developing countries at their ambitions to utilise geothermal resources. Within this framework scientists of BGR have been active in several developing countries with favourable geothermal conditions. The focus of BGR work there is the geoscientific exploration with geological, geophysical and geochemical methods.

Further links related to deep geothermal energy

Current projects

Completed projects

Contact 1:

Dr. Torsten Tischner
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-2475
Fax: +49-(0)511-643-2304

Contact 2:

Dr. Franz May
Phone: +49 (0)511-643-3784

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