EGS technology has been developed to a large extent in the EU co-funded EGS Project
at Soultz-la-Forêts, and Europe is presently the world leader in this technology. The
verification of the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of electricity
production from EGS is one of the strategically important research areas in the
medium to longer term part of the Sustainable Energy Work Programme of the 7th
Reductions in the category of capital expenditures hold the greatest potential for
reducing the overall costs of EGS power plants. However, the lack of public
acceptance can be a show stopper, and block further EGS development. The avoidance or
mitigation of induced seismicity related to EGS development and operation is crucial
for the wider uptake of EGS in densely populated areas like the EU. Several years of
successful operation without negative environmental side-effects will be required
before utilities and consumers could be expected to develop confidence in the
systems. Continued technological research is required before pilot plants can provide
convincing demonstration of the practical and economic aspects of EGS systems.
In the 7th Framework Programme, research into geothermal technologies will be
facilitated under the headers "Renewable Electricity Production" and "Renewables for
Heating and Cooling".
For geothermal electricity production, research and development should aim to develop
enabling technologies for the exploitation of high-temperature resources, and to
prove the feasibility and sustainability of EGS technology in representative EU
sites. The estimated current cost of electricity generation from the first-generation
prototype plants is of the order of € 0.08 0.15/kWh. Demonstration projects should
aim at improving geothermal reservoir detection technology, increasing the
performance of fluid production systems (corrosion and scaling), and increasing the
efficiency of electricity generating systems. A continued reduction in cost through
innovative developments, learning curve effects and co-generation of heat and power
should lead to an electricity cost from enhanced geothermal systems of around 0.05
€/kWh in 2020.
In the field of geothermal heating and cooling, the focus will be on improving the
performance of geothermal specific heat pumps and on improving the reliability and
ease of maintenance of the underground components of the heat pumps.