Global Network of National Geoparks

Geothermal energy – an intensive course in TERRA.vita Geopark

Source :UNESCO Geopark TERRA.vita, Germany Author :Timo Kluttig Published :March 15, 2017

In co-operation with the Climate-Protection-Departement of the County of Osnabrück the TERRA.vita Geopark (NW-Germany) wants to initiate the use of geothermal energy in the region. An intensive course was organized in the beginning of March especially for architects, planners and members of the communities, to explain the potential of this technology.




100 participants met in a conference center within the natural history museum, to learn about “surface-near geothermal energy”. County chairman Dr. Winfried Wilkens used his welcome to explain the regions climate-protection goals and stressed the fact, that heat is an issue that comes into focus more and more: “Concerning the production of renewable electricity, we are already on a good way” Wilkens outlined, substituting fossil fuels for heating is by far the harder work to do”. What he meant was the high number of gas- and oil-based heaters that are still thought to be the standard. And yet the building of a new home or a basic reconstruction is an ideal opportunity, to get rid of the traditional technology. Wilkens: “Every new gas- or oil heater is a missed chance for climate protection for the next 20 years.”

The talks given in the following hours shone a light on the issue of geothermal energy from different perspectives. Beside technical aspects that were explained by various examples also issues of permissions and funding were discussed.

A new aspect for many of the participants was the fact, that geothermal systems can also be used for cooling in summer: “In this case, the heat from the buildings´ rooms is reinjected into the ground” explained engineer Kim Schwettmann from the GeoEnergy-Celle association that was co-organizing the event. “In this case the system is even more efficient”.

The question that is probably the most important one was asked by an employee of a community in the southern district: How can one convince a house-builder to use this technology, if it´s more expensive, and permission and funding are noticeably more complicated than a traditional system?

The answer was given by Kim Schwettmann straightforwardly: “In an intermediate term a well calibrated system delivers four fifth of the energy needed from the ground. Such a heater is therefore always the most economical solution and the owner becomes independent from fluctuation of prices. Earth delivers it´s heat for free.”