Research Network for Including Geothermal Technologies into Decarbonized Heating and Cooling Grids

Welcome address by the chair of Geothermal-DHC

Europe is entering a new decade. Referring to the latest policies of the EU commissions, like the “Clean Energy for all European” and the “European Green Deal”, Europe is aiming towards the decarbonisation of the energy section. Lots of efforts and focus is put on electricity, industry and traffic, whilst half of the energy consumption in the EU is spent on heating and cooling in total and half of this is spent for domestic heating and cooling.

The pressure is high for finding solutions to reduce energy imports, enable low carbon sources and fight against critical heat waves due to climate change. The solution is simple, and it is just below our feet – GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. Used since decades in Europe, it covers technological solutions providing electricity, heat and cold by the same source – a true all-rounder.   

As proposed by the Heat Roadmap Europe project, heating and cooling grids are crucial for reaching the decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sector covering up to 50% of the future end user supply.

So why not combining these two things?

Geothermal-DHC, the research network for including geothermal technologies into decarbonized heating and cooling grids funded by COST is addressing these topics.

Gregor Goetzl, Geological Survey of Austria, chair of CA18219 Geothermal-DHC


What is Geothermal-DHC about?

Geothermal-DHC addresses the inclusion of geothermal energy in decarbonized heating and cooling grids across Europe. The network follows a technologically bottom-up approach involving the whole spectrum of geothermal and envisaging the whole process chain from planning to operation and monitoring. Our network addresses both, refitted existing heating and cooling networks as well as new grids. Geothermal may act as a heating source, sink or storage and may be combined with other renewables (e.g. solar thermal) and waste heat in multivalent heating and cooling grids.

From a technological point of view, Geothermal-DHC addresses:

  • Shallow geothermal energy
  • Engineered thermo-active building structures
  • Medium depth geothermal energy (e.g. refitted abandoned hydrocarbon wells)
  • Deep geothermal energy in terms of hydrogeothermal and petrothermal systems
  • Unconventional geothermal application (e.g. geothermal-CCUS)
  • Underground thermal energy storage
  • Conventional high temperature heating grids (2G to 3G DH)
  • Low temperature heating and/or cooling grids (4G to 5G DH)
  • Geothermal combined heat and power production

Geothermal-DHC does not address single building supply, pure electricity production and balneological use of geothermal energy and natural hot water.

The network

Geothermal-DHC connects researchers from various disciplines (e.g. geosciences, energy conversion and social science) with stakeholders (e.g. energy suppliers, municipalities and energy planners), who are interested to lower the CO2 footprint of heating and cooling in their region. Currently, the network is covering participants from more than 30 European countries as well as observers from outside of Europe.

For more information about the management structure of the COST network Geothermal-DHC can be found here.

The vision of Geothermal-DHC

The COST network aims at developing a competence and research platform for the use of geothermal energy in European heating and cooling grids.

Geothermal-DHC aims to capitalize knowledge from more than 50 national- and international research projects and over 30 planned and existing case studies to demonstrate that geothermal energy has the potential to significantly enhance the share of renewable energy sources in heating and cooling grids to

  • 30% in 2030
  • 50% in 2050

in Europe.

Existing and promising solution, identified barriers and research gaps and proposed strategies and measures will be summarized in a joint roadmap to reach the above mentioned 2030 and 2050 targets.

How is Geothermal-DHC organized?

Our network relies on a flexible, matrix based structure. Four major working groups (Permanent Working Groups - PWG) organize the key aspects of Geothermal-DHC:

  • PWG1 “Technology” addresses the technological aspects of including geothermal energy into heating and cooling grids along its decision and development path from the early planning, resource assessment, installation and its safe and environmental friendly operation
  • PWG 2 “Outreach and Communication” supports the interaction of the network with addressed target groups from research, industry or communities and promotes the vision of Geothermal-DHC to the outside world
  • PWG 3 “Promoting Young Careers” aims at educating young researchers, who will be the next generation of decision makers and consultants on key aspects of geothermal energy in heating and cooling grids
  • PWG 4 “Capitalization and Uptakes” supports the long term development of the research network and the transition into a competence platform

The Permanent Working Groups are supported by flexible Ad Hoc Working Groups, which address certain topics inside the networks and connect the PWGs on cross-cutting aspects like setting up a knowledge platform or supporting targeted stakeholder communication.  

Aimed outputs

Above all, Geothermal-DHC intends to create a long-term competence and research platform for geothermal heating and cooling grids in Europe. A strong voice, which provides sound scientific advice to decision makers on a national scale and European scale.

By the end of the COST Action, the following outputs will be available:

  • A dedicated web portal on the inclusion of geothermal energy into heating and cooling grids in cooperation with the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC)
  • A digital knowledge repository at the web portal on geothermal heating and cooling grids
  • Digital fact sheets and technological guidelines on the inclusion of geothermal energy into heating and cooling grids
  • An educational concept to train the next generation of researchers and decision makers
  • A joint roadmap towards the inclusion of geothermal energy into heating and cooling grids across Europe.

COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020.