What is geothermal | Research | Targets

What is Geothermal?

Geothermal energy : from the earth, a renewable energy resource delivering heat and power 24 hours a day throughout the year, an energy resource nearly infinite and available all over the world.

By definition, geothermal energy is the energy stored in form of heat below the earth’s surface. It has been used since antiquity for heating, and for about 100 years also for electricity generation. Its potential is inexhaustible in human terms, comparable to that of the sun. Beside electric power generation, geothermal energy is today used for district heating, as well as for heating (and cooling) of individual buildings, including offices, shops, small residential houses, etc.

Geothermal-generated electricity was first produced at Larderello, Italy, in 1904. Iceland, Italy, Turkey, Portugal, Germany and France are the leading countries in Europe today.

The largest geothermal district heating systems within Europe can be found in the Paris and Munich area, with Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and others showing a substantial number of interesting geothermal district heating systems. Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Austria are the leading countries in terms of market for geothermal heat pumps in Europe.

Geothermal Electricity

Today, geothermal power plants exist on every continent, at any place were reservoirs of steam or hot water can be found. The installed capacity in Europe amounts to around 1.6GWe, of which 0.9GWe is in the EU. The relevant resources are far from being fully developed, including in Europe. The concept of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (including the classical Hot-Dry-Rock-idea) is going to add a tremendously to the potential.

For more information about geothermal electricity visit

Deep and Direct uses

The earth is full of energy. Virtually any temperature level in the underground can be used directly, for instance with deep boreholes. Did you know, that through deep boreholes almost 4500 MWth yet are installed in Europe? 4500 MWth for a clean environment. However, here again, only a small fraction of the resources are currently used.

For information about geothermal district heating visit

EGEC Innovative Brochure

Shallow Geothermal

Virtually every temperature level in the underground can be used for geothermal energy, even if this means only ca. 3-15 °C, as usual in the shallow underground in European climate. In most cases a heat pump is required here, and cooling can be supplied as well as heating. This technology provides again about 9000 MWth of heating capacity.
For more information visit and

For information about training and certification for designers and installers of shallow geothermal systems, visit

Geothermal in Agriculture

Geothermal is increasingly being used in the agri-food industry as it meets many of the sectors’ requirements. Low or medium temperature geothermal heat is available everywhere in the world, and the systems enabling its use are simple and easy to maintain. Geothermal projects are installed locally and provide heating and cooling at competitive prices. They create direct and indirect jobs across the value chain.

EGEC agriculture brochure

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EGEC manages the secretariat of the Geothermal TP.

The Geothermal TP has published a strategic research agenda and a roadmap for geothermal. The R&D topics proposed in these documents aim to reduce costs, to attract more investments, and to reach the targets for geothermal energy for 2020 and beyond :

a) Heat production for all Europe= 11 Mtoe

b) Electricity production for all Europe= between 40 000 and 80 000 GWh/y

More information below.

The European Technology Platform on Renewable Heating & Cooling (RHC-Platform) brings together stakeholders from the biomass, geothermal and solar thermal sector – including the related industries – to define a common strategy for increasing the use of renewable energy technologies for heating and cooling.

Visit RHC-Platform Website

Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for Renewable Heating & Cooling
Strategic Research Priorities for Geothermal Technology
View the Geothermal Technology roadmap

Information about Horizon 2020 is available on the European Commission’s website

Information and presentations of  the  events of the Geothermal Panel can be found here.

Information about the proposed deep Geothermal European Technology and Innovation Platform can be found at
on the dedicated page.

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Since its foundation, EGEC has endeavoured to provide a vision for the future of geothermal energy in Europe, while also tackling the issues of today. To this end, in 2009  EGEC authored the Brussels Declaration, setting a path towards full deployment of the vast potential of geothermal energy.

A Geothermal Europe - Brussels Declaration

‘A Geothermal Europe – Ferrara Declaration’ 

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