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Italian Geothermal Union: Vision for geothermal development in Italy to 2030 and 2050

Geothermal maps for Italy (source: UGI)
Alexander Richter 16 May 2018

The Italian Geothermal Union (UGI) has released a study on its vision for geothermal development in Italy until 2030 and 2050. With careful estimates of up to 2,500 MW of geothermal power generation capacity potential until 2050, this number could be double with EGS.

The Italian Geothermal Union ( UGI ) has published the study of geothermal growth estimates in Italy 2016-2030, with projections to 2050 , among the most complete and updated works currently available on the possible contribution of geothermal energy to covering energy demand in Italy. This was reported this week at GreenReport.it.

In just over 100 pages (and a summary freely available here (in Italian) and here (in English by EGEC)), the UGI outlines the current use of this renewable source in our country – where it was used for energy production for the first time in the world, over a century ago – and then move between the possible developments, from geothermal production to direct uses of heat, to investigate the resources associated with unconventional geothermal systems.

An analysis for which it is essential to start from a fact: the total consumption of primary energy in Italy is (data 2015) of 171 MTep, 75% satisfied by fossil fuels, 6% by imported electricity and ” only “for the remaining 19% from renewable sources.

A performance to be improved significantly and in time to contain climate change, thanks to the use of geothermal potential still largely unused in our country.

Geothermal energy increased from 1.36 MTep in 2010 to 1.48 MTep in 2015, and its contribution to total primary energy consumption increased in five years from 0.72% to 0.87%; emissions of CO 2 avoided through the geothermal energy in the five years are therefore increased from 3.7 MTonn / a in 2010 to over 4 MTonn / a in 2015.

It is a contribution to the improvement of the environment which is already very significant today, but which will become even more important in the future.

Suffice it to say that the «mainland geothermal resources potentially extractable in Italy within 5 km of depth can be estimated from a minimum of 2 × 10 ^ 19 J (~ 500 MTep), to 4 × 10 ^ 20 J (~ 104 ^ 4 MTep ) », While, as already mentioned,« total energy consumption in Italy in 2015 amounted to 171 MTep ».

Starting from these theoretical figures, the UGI has outlined plausible objectives up to 2030, and hypothetical projections up to 2050, articulated on two development scenarios (the first more prudent, the second more ambitious), summarised as in the table and graph here below.

Italy_Geothermal2030-2050

Regarding the production of electricity from geothermal energy, UGI believes that “up to all the ’20s the production can come only from the exploitation of hydrothermal systems at T> 90 ° C”, with a cultivation of the resource “probably limited only to Tuscany ».

Only ten years later, however, the Italian picture could be much more varied: “After 2030, with exploitation not only of hydrothermal systems but also of unconventional ones (admitted, however, for the latter a R & D project was successfully concluded). to valorise the unconventional high temperature geothermal systems , ed), the Regions other than Tuscany could contribute to the geothermal production of the Country for about 35% in the case of Scenario I and about 40% in the case of Scenario II ».

In this regard, the UGI notes that, adding the resources associated with unconventional geothermal systems to those of hydrothermal systems (ie “traditional” ones), it is estimated “with caution that the medium-high temperature geothermal potential existing in Italy to produce electricity is at least 5,000 MWe for a period of exploitation of at least 50 years “.

Extensive developments are also close at hand as regards the direct uses of geothermal heat.

«It is estimated that they will grow considerably overall (including heat pumps) – explains the Italian geothermal union – due to the air conditioning of the rooms», moving to a total installed power «in 2050 from 6 to 8 times greater than 1,372 MWt of 2015, to reach values in the 2050 between 8,100 MWt for Scenario I and 11.350 MWt for Scenario II »

Source: Green Report