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Assessing the potential for geothermal technologies in the energy transition

Geothermal energy can play asignificant role in the energy transition in most regions in the wolrd. Its versatility to provide both heat and power, as well as its high capacity factor make it suitable for many applications. In this project we explore long-term prospects for advanced geothermal technology using integrated assessment modelling.

Geothermal energy can become an important source of low-carbon power and heat in the future. While geothermal technologies have been in use for long time, large uncertainties still exist as to the geothermal resource potential, the extent to which geothermal technologies can be integrated in the energy system, and the technical advances and cost reductions that can be achieved in the coming decades. In this project we make use of two energy system models to explore the possible role of geothermal heat and power technologies in the energy transition both globally and nationally (in the Netherlands). For the global assessment we make use of the well-established integrated assessment model TIAM-ECN, while for the national assessment we make use of the OPERA model of the Dutch energy system. We analyze long-term scenarios that sketch out the possible extent of deployment for geothermal technologies in the energy system under different assumptions as to, among others, the utilizable geothermal potential and the rate of cost reduction for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). Regarding the latter, our preliminary results indicate that, due to recent technical improvements, very steep cost reductions may be reached for EGS, which will induce a higher penetration of geothermal power in the electricity system. In the remainder of this project we will investigate the effects of these cost reductions in heating applications as well, both globally and in the Netherlands. We will also try to reassess the resource potentials in more detail, and improve the representation of geothermal technologies in our energy system models, TIAM-ECN and OPERA.

Global geothermal power projections with and without steep EGS cost reductions

Dr Francesco Dalla Longa


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