Freiburg geothermal conference ends on a high

Freiburg in Germany was the centre of the geothermal sector for three days last week when it hosted the Seventh International Geothermal Conference. With over 250 participants from 17 nations, the organisers of the event were upbeat as its doors closed, saying that "the interest in the potential of deep geothermal energy is obvious”.
Freiburg geothermal conference ends on a high

The three-day conference last week covered subjects such as enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and how to reduce cost of geothermal projects, and included a presentation of the progress report for the amendment of the EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) by the German Federal Environment Ministry. The event ended with fieldtrips to geothermal power plants in Switzerland and France.

The organisers of the event reveal that the number of participants reflected an increase of 10% compared with the conference in 2010.

“This trend and the increasing numbers of international participants are showing the growing interest in the geothermal energy sector in common and especially the development in Germany”, says Dr. Jochen Schneider, chief executive officer of Enerchange, the agency responsible for the organisation of the event. He sees the IGC as an established exchange platform for the international geothermal sector.

One of the main subjects on the first day was the realisation of EGS projects – projects that are using bedrock at a depth of 3,000 to 5,000 metres as a heat exchanger. This technology has only been shown in demonstration projects so far, but experts believe it has a high potential for future power generation. “Particularly with regard to the use of domestic sources of energy, there has to be a strong focus on the development of the EGS technology”, said Dr. Ernst Huenges from the Geoscience Research Centre in Potsdam.

In the afternoon of the first day there had been workshops dealing with public relations, pump technology, geothermal projects worldwide and the use of GeotIS - a n IT system that provides information and data compilations on deep aquifers in Germany relevant for geothermal exploitation.

During the second day, attention turned to various forums dealing with the technical, financial and political challenges of geothermal energy. The forum entitled “cost reduction and increase in efficiency” was especially popular, while others were attracted by Guillaume Becquin’s presentation on General Electric’s research into high-efficiency working fluids and cycle processes in geothermal power plants. “An increase in efficiency of 30-50 % is possible,” he said at the end of his presentation.

Another central topic of the second day was the challenges of seismic activities during geothermal projects. Last but not least, Cornelia Viertl from the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) presented the Ministry’s for the geothermal feed-in tariffs established in the EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act). She made it clear that the BMU recognises the potential of geothermal energy for power generation and therefore suggested an increase in the basic remuneration, as well as a subsidy for drilling costs.

“The deep geothermal energy is an interesting part of the renewable energy mix, because of its potential for covering base load demands. That is reflected in different energy scenarios. This year’s conference has shown, that there are ways to use the potential of this energy in the next decades”, said Marcus Brian, chief executive officer of Enerchange.

More than a dozen companies used the conference to demonstrate their products and services to the professional public. One of the exhibitors and sponsors of the event was the French company, Cryostar, which is focusing on high efficiency heat exchangers, also used in geothermal power plants. Other exhibitors came from Canada, Poland and Germany.

The International Geothermal Conference is organised by the agency Enerchange. The Freiburg Wirtschaft Touristik und Messe GmbH & Co. KG as the economic development and marketing company of the city was co-organiser of the conference, which was sponsored by the Federal Environment Ministry and supported by the European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE). Tthe German Energy Agency (dena), the International Geothermal Association (IGA), the Wirtschaftsforum Geothermie, the Swiss Geothermal Association (SVG) and the German Geothermal Association (GtV) also cooperated in the event.

Anyone attending the event can now download the presentations given at the event from the conference website.

For additional information:

7th International Geothermal Conference

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