It’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!
Harnessing the power of science to bring back to life things that are buried deep below the ground has been the background for many “risky projects” to say the least. Using new technologies to revive the exploitation, development and export of the 180 TWh per year potential of geothermal energy from Iceland to Europe via 1500 km High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cables is indeed challenging. The recent revival of discussions between the UK and Iceland regarding such venture is a good indication that geothermal energy is alive and kicking at the door of the EU energy strategy.
At the door of the EU does also stand Turkey, and its 300 TWh/yr potential of geothermal energy. This energy could be exported to southern Germany (1600 km from Turkey) via HVDC transmission or even via hydrogen through natural gas pipelines like the South Stream project (see video below). The cost of such power lines would be in the same order of magnitude per energy unit as gas pipelines and such high investments projects are very risky. This is where DNV could help. In addition to its Risk Management expertise for complex projects, DNV Kema can offer 30 years experience of geothermal engineering services. Taping into this baseload and climate friendly energy is not without challenges and DNV Research and Innovation is actually calling for industry partners to join a Joint Industry Project to build a Geothermal Guideline based on Technology Qualification principles in order to manage the risks inherent to geothermal projects (see Geothermal JIP proposal )
Geothermal energy from Iceland or Turkey could even help decrease electricity bills for UK or German homes. Electricity prices in Iceland and Turkey are ¢9/kWh respectively ¢13/kWh when it costs ¢22/kWh respectively ¢36/kWh in the UK and Germany. The integration of geothermal power into the European energy market may also trigger more competition among utility groups.
The Amazing Spider-Mesh
This large amount of geothermal energy needs efficient way to be transported over long distance to the load centers in the UK or Germany. Converting such energy into electricity and transmitted using HVDC technology offers an attractive option. It could take decades to build a meshed super grid in Europe which would interconnect offshore wind power in the north, solar power in the south, biomass and geothermal in the east. This super grid would offer renewable power to Europe continuously and increase the security of supply by diversifying the resources. The cross-border interconnectors that are being built now are the first step for this. Two already connect the UK to France and the Netherlands (see map above) and 9 are under construction.
Six (thousand) feet under
Connecting Icelandic and Turkish geothermal power to Europe would bury the “energy security policy” of the EU six thousand feet under but for the greater good of increasing competition among clean power provider, reducing electricity bills and emissions of Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollutants.