The year 2022 turned out to be a critical turning point for Europe. In the context of war, the uncertainty of energy supplies has once again come to the fore, and inflation has soared to record levels. In such a geopolitical and macroeconomic environment - with energy shortages and ever-higher bills - households and businesses are looking for the best alternative. Against this backdrop, geothermal energy is on the rise and becoming an increasingly reliable substitute for traditional heating and cooling methods.
The biggest advantage of geothermal systems is that they are not affected by external factors. They supply energy directly from the earth's subsurface, dramatically reducing heating and cooling consumption and thus consumer bills, and are one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of providing thermal comfort in buildings.
In the last year alone, 14 geothermal power plants have been commissioned in 9 European countries, and applications for new projects continue to increase. Others, for example in Turkey, are waiting for more favourable legislative frameworks to support the use of geothermal energy.
There has been a huge surge in planning for new geothermal plants in countries such as Italy, Germany, Turkey, France, Iceland, Greece, the UK, and many others. A number of projects are already underway and are expected to be finalised soon.
Sales and new installations of geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling are also showing strong growth in the European market. On a year-on-year basis, France reported a 73% increase in sales, Austria 59%, Belgium 35%, and Germany 10%. Percentage-wise, Sweden, and Germany hold the largest share of the geothermal heat pump market in Europe. Sweden is also the leader in the number of installed geothermal systems, with nearly 120 per 1,000 households.
Of further interest to the European Union and national governments is the possibility of linking geothermal systems to lithium. Metal is extremely valuable and in demand for the production of phones, tablets, and batteries for electric vehicles.
Research is already underway to extract lithium using geothermal systems, which is expected to boost investment in the sector and accelerate the transition to more sustainable development.
Attempts have been made in various European countries to strengthen the energy sector by subsidising the use of some traditional fossil fuels. However, this does not solve the problem of insecurity of supply. Thus, in their plan for economic recovery and development after the Covid-19 crisis, the governments of countries such as Bulgaria and Belgium also relied on investment in geothermal systems.
Another reason for the increased demand for more sustainable projects is the European Union's ambitious targets to significantly reduce emissions. Major oil and gas companies have already started to explore the potential of the geothermal sector because of pressure to diversify the industry and move towards environmentally friendly alternatives.
The trend of new investors coming in and more geothermal projects is expected to continue.
Policies to reduce the financing of new oil and gas fields, the drive to lower consumption and heating and cooling bills, and a focus on more environmentally friendly and sustainable systems make geothermal energy one of the best investments for the future.