After two years, 6 workshops and 2 conferences, the ENGINE Coordination Action has strengthened the scientific community, gained an audience at the European scale and developed links with other initiative worldwide like the IEA-GIA, US or Australia. The framework of ongoing activities is clearer and a lot of new cooperation has been initiated among the partners. Moreover, expertises in progress have already identified some priority issues that have been presented to the second stakeholder meeting in September 2007.
During this period, the economic and environmental constrains have changed as a result of the increase of the energy price and of the threats of global warming as a consequence of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere. In parallel, several major geothermal projects have been developed, especially in Germany (Gross Schönebeck, Landau, Unterhaching…) and Iceland, and the interest for unconventional geothermal energy worldwide has been renewed.
What is now missing for starting up new ambitious projects, rally industrial partners and get support form politics at the national and European level? Calibration of the “learning curve” and quantification of geologic and technical risk are among the main issues that come out from the contact with the stakeholders. It is important on one hand to evaluate the investment and the expected savings on cost operation at the 2020 horizon for each R&D initiative and industrial project. On the other hand, it must be demonstrated that geothermal energy can contribute to achieve the goals defined in the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, i.e. to reach a target of 20% renewable market penetration in 2020. It is also noted in this document that if prospects for market penetration are presented for biofuels, photovoltaics or wind energy, reference to geothermal energy is still missing.
The evaluation of the technical and socio-economic risk for the development of the geothermal energy in Europe is thus the main task on which all our efforts must be put on during the last semester of ENGINE. Data available from the updated framework of activities and expertises performed must converge to select discrete and significant parameters for the risk analysis. This work can be done qualitatively but should be quantified in particular through the use of Decision Support Systems that will integrate the critical parameters defined. From this modelling, a definition of the most favourable contexts for the development of Unconventional Geothermal Energy in Europe is expected.